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To determine whether the incidence of and susceptibility to climatic droplet keratopathy (CDK), an acquired, often bilateral degenerative corneal disease, is influenced by the genetic background of the individuals who exhibit the disorder.


To determine whether the disease expression was influenced by the genetic ancestry of CDK cases in native Mapuche of the northwest area of Patagonia in Argentina, we examined mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome variation in 53 unrelated individuals. Twenty-nine of them were part of the CDK (patient) population, while 24 were part of the control group. The analysis revealed the maternal and paternal lineages that were present in the two study groups.


This analysis demonstrated that nearly all persons had a Native American mtDNA background, whereas 50% of the CDK group and 37% of the control group had Native American paternal ancestry, respectively. There was no significant difference in the frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups between the CDK patient and control groups. Although the Y-chromosome data revealed differences in specific haplogroup frequencies between these two groups, there was no statistically significant relationship between individual paternal genetic backgrounds and the incidence or stage of disease.


These results indicate a lack of correlation between genetic ancestry as represented by haploid genetic systems and the incidence of CDK in Mapuche populations. In addition, the mtDNA appears to play less of a role in CDK expression than for other complex diseases linked to bioenergetic processes. However, further analysis of the mtDNA genome sequence and other genes involved in corneal function may reveal the more precise role that mitochondria play in the expression of CDK.

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© 2013 Schurr et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Date Posted: 10 July 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.