• Bulgarian population;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • multiple sclerosis

The occurrence of multiple sclerosis (MS) in subjects clustering to a particular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup/haplotype or carrying mtDNA mutations associated with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) has suggested that mitochondrial genome may contribute to susceptibility to MS. In the present study, 58 unrelated Bulgarian patients with relapsing remitting form of MS and 104 randomly selected healthy individuals were analysed for the presence of 14 mtDNA polymorphisms determining major European haplogroups as well as three (4216, 14 798, 13 708) secondary LHON mutations. Restriction enzyme analysis used to screen patients and controls for the common haplogroup-associated polymorphisms showed that each of these changes was present in MS patients at a similar frequency to control subjects. However, 21 of the 58 patients (36.2%) were positive for T4 216C mutation, while only 11.3% of the controls carried this secondary LHON base change (P < 0.01; OR = 4.38). Our finding indicated that 4216C base substitution could be considered as a predisposing marker for MS and supported the hypothesis that particular mtDNA variants could contribute to genetic susceptibility of MS, and merits further investigation.