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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Oct 4:ASN.2021050596. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2021050596. Online ahead of print.
Background: Gitelman syndrome (GS) is the most frequent hereditary salt-losing tubulopathy characterized by hypokalemic alkalosis and hypomagnesemia. GS is caused by biallelic pathogenic variants in SLC12A3, encoding the Na+-Cl– cotransporter (NCC) expressed in the distal convoluted tubule. Pathogenic variants of CLCNKB, HNF1B, FXYD2, or KCNJ10 may result in the same renal phenotype of GS, as they can lead to reduced NCC activity. For approximately 10 percent of patients with a GS phenotype, the genotype is unknown. Methods: We identified mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants in three families with GS-like electrolyte abnormalities, then investigated 156 families for variants in MT-TI and MT-TF, which encode the transfer RNAs for phenylalanine and isoleucine. Mitochondrial respiratory chain function was assessed in patient fibroblasts. Mitochondrial dysfunction was induced In NCC-expressing HEK293 cells to assess the effect on thiazide-sensitive 22Na+ transport. Results: Genetic investigations revealed four mtDNA variants in 13 families: m.591C>T (n=7), m.616T>C (n=1), m.643A>G (n=1) (all in MT-TF) and m.4291T>C (n=4, in MT-TI). Variants were near homoplasmic in affected individuals. All variants were classified as pathogenic, except for m.643A>G, which was classified as a variant of uncertain significance. Importantly, affected members of six families with an MT-TF variant additionally suffered from progressive chronic kidney disease. Dysfunction of oxidative phosphorylation complex IV reduced maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity in patient fibroblasts. In vitro pharmacological inhibition of complex IV, mimicking the effect of the mtDNA variants, inhibited NCC phosphorylation and NCC-mediated sodium uptake. Conclusion: Pathogenic mtDNA variants in MT-TF and MT-TI can cause a GS-like syndrome. Genetic investigation of mtDNA should be considered in patients with unexplained GS-like tubulopathies.
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