New discoveries providing insights into mitochondrial bioenergetics, their dynamic interactions as well as their role in cellular homeostasis have dramatically advanced our understanding of the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson's disease (PD). Respiratory chain impairment is a key feature in sporadic PD patients and there is growing evidence that links proteins encoded by PD-associated genes to disturbances in mitochondrial function. Against the backdrop of latest advances in the development of PD treatments that target mitochondria, we aim to give an overview of the literature published in the last three decades on the significance of mitochondria in the pathogenesis of PD. We describe the contribution of mitochondrial genome alterations and PD-associated genes to mitochondrial maintenance. We highlight mitophagy as a key mechanism in neurodegeneration. Moreover, we focus on the reciprocal interaction between alpha-synuclein aggregation and mitochondrial dysfunction. We discuss a novel trafficking pathway involving mitochondrial-derived vesicles within the context of PD and provide a synopsis of the most recently emerging topics in PD research with respect to mitochondria. This includes the relationship between mitochondria and cell-mediated immunity, the ER-mitochondria axis, sirtuin-mediated mitochondrial stress response and the role of micro RNAs in the aetiology of PD. In addition, recent studies have challenged the neuro-centric view of PD pathology, moving microglia and astrocytes into the research spotlight. Greater insights into these mechanisms may hold the key for the development of novel targeted therapies, addressing the need for a disease-modifying treatment, which has remained elusive to date.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)