Fruit and vegetable consumption, cigarette smoke, and leukocyte mitochondrial DNA copy number

Shaowei Wu, Xin Li, Shasha Meng, Teresa Fung, Andrew T. Chan, Geyu Liang, Edward Giovannucci, Immaculata De Vivo, Jin Hyup Lee, Hongmei Nan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background Mitochondrial dysfunction is an important component of the aging process and has been implicated in the development of many human diseases. Mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn), an indirect biomarker of mitochondrial function, is sensitive to oxidative damage. Few population-based studies have investigated the impact of fruit and vegetable consumption and cigarette smoke (2 major sources of exogenous antioxidants and oxidants) on leukocyte mtDNAcn. Objectives We investigated the association between fruit and vegetable consumption, cigarette smoke, and leukocyte mtDNAcn based on data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). Methods Data from 2769 disease-free women in the NHS were used to examine the cross-sectional associations between dietary sources of antioxidants, cigarette smoke, and leukocyte mtDNAcn. In vitro cell-based experiments were conducted to support the findings from the population-based study. Results In the multivariable-Adjusted model, both whole-fruit consumption and intake of flavanones (a group of antioxidants abundant in fruit) were positively associated with leukocyte mtDNAcn (P-Trend = 0.005 and 0.02, respectively), whereas pack-years of smoking and smoking duration were inversely associated with leukocyte mtDNAcn (P-Trend = 0.01 and 0.007, respectively). These findings are supported by in vitro cell-based experiments showing that the administration of naringin, a major flavanone in fruit, led to a substantial increase in mtDNAcn in human leukocytes, whereas exposure to nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone, a key carcinogenic ingredient of cigarette smoke, resulted in a significant decrease in mtDNAcn of cells (all P < 0.05). Further in vitro studies showed that alterations in leukocyte mtDNAcn were functionally linked to the modulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and function. Conclusions Fruit consumption and intake of dietary flavanones were associated with increased leukocyte mtDNAcn, whereas cigarette smoking was associated with decreased leukocyte mtDNAcn, which is a promising biomarker for oxidative stress-related health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-432
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • cigarette smoke
  • fruit
  • mitochondrial DNA copy number
  • oxidative stress; leukocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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