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Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease


It is clear from a striking convergence of human tissue studies, neurotoxin models, and genetic models that mitochondrial dysregulation plays a central pathogenic role in Parkinson's disease (PD) and related neurodegenerative conditions. Impaired mitochondrial quality could result from both increased damage and decreased ability to repair or clear damaged mitochondria. In particular, common deficits in mitochondrial respiratory chain function, oxidative stress, morphology/dynamics, and calcium handling capacities have been described in multiple PD model systems employing complex I inhibitors, 6-hydroxydopamine and molecular manipulation of Parkinsonian genes including α-synuclein, PTEN-induced kinase 1, Parkin, DJ-1, and, to a lesser extent, leucine rich repeat kinase 2. The most recent and exciting work implicates alterations in the regulation of macroautophagy and likely of selective mitophagic clearance of damaged mitochondria, although additional studies are needed to resolve some issues in this area. Future studies emphasizing the normal mitoprotective function(s) of proteins associated with recessive loss-of-function causes of familial PD, as well as compensatory mechanisms operating in their absence, may offer particularly valuable insights into strategies to enhance mitochondrial health.