Mitochondria and Parkinson's disease: Clinical, molecular, and translational aspects

Max Borsche, Sandro L. Pereira, Christine Klein*, Anne Grünewald

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondrial dysfunction represents a well-established player in the pathogenesis of both monogenic and idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). Initially originating from the observation that mitochondrial toxins cause PD, findings from genetic PD supported a contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction to the disease. Here, proteins encoded by the autosomal recessively inherited PD genes Parkin, PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1), and DJ-1 are involved in mitochondrial pathways. Additional evidence for mitochondrial dysfunction stems from models of autosomal-dominant PD due to mutations in alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Moreover, patients harboring alterations in mitochondrial polymerase gamma (POLG) often exhibit signs of parkinsonism. While some molecular studies suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary event in PD, others speculate that it is the result of impaired mitochondrial clearance. Most recent research even implicated damage-associated molecular patterns released from non-degraded mitochondria in neuroinflammatory processes in PD. Here, we summarize the manifold literature dealing with mitochondria in the context of PD. Moreover, in light of recent advances in the field of personalized medicine, patient stratification according to the degree of mitochondrial impairment followed by mitochondrial enhancement therapy may hold potential for at least a subset of genetic and idiopathic PD cases. Thus, in the second part of this review, we discuss therapeutic approaches targeting mitochondrial dysfunction with the aim to prevent or delay neurodegeneration in PD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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