Is 'mitochondria' the key to a healthy brain?

One of the important components of cells, mitochondria, is responsible for producing

adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is called the 'living energy currency'. Therefore, mitochondrial damage and dysfunction can slow ATP production and result in a lack of energy for the brain to operate normally.

However, it is becoming clear that there are other functions that mitochondria act on the brain.

Could mitochondria be the key to a healthy brain?

In the 1960s, it was discovered that mitochondria have their own DNA. In the 1970s, Douglas Wallace, a PhD student at Yale University, suspected that mitochondria have an ATP-producing function and that mutations in mitochondrial DNA could lead to illness. According to Wallace, this idea that 'no one thought it was rational at the time' was proved by a research team of Wallace et al. In 1988 to link Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy with mutations in mitochondrial DNA. It is said that it has come to be taken seriously.

Since then, dozens of diseases have been suspected to be associated with changes in mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA related to mitochondrial function. What all these diseases have in common is that many are of the nervous system or affect the brain.

The brain is only 2% of the total weight of human beings, but energy is an organ that consumes 20% of the total weight, and Wallace, who became the director of the Mitochondrial Epigenome Medicine Center of Philadelphia Children's Hospital, said, 'When the voltage drops due to a power outage Just as energy-intensive home appliances are affected, even a slight decrease in mitochondrial function can have a significant impact on the brain. '

Wallace is particularly interested in the link between mitochondria and autism spectrum disorders. Studies have shown that mitochondrial disease cases were as high as 5% in people with autism, compared to about 0.01% in the general population. In addition, some autistic patients have been found to have mutations in either mitochondrial DNA or genes in the human genome that are known to affect mitochondrial function. Further research is needed to determine whether this mutation is responsible for or just contributes to autism, but studies in mice suggest that it may be relevant.

It is known that autism has an increased risk of developing due to certain environmental factors. Richard Frey, a pediatric neurologist who studies autism, found that this 'environmental factor that increases the risk of developing autism' can disrupt mitochondrial health. ..

Other studies have shown that the amount of prenatal air pollution affects ATP production rates and that exposure to metals such as zinc and lead in early childhood correlates with changes in mitochondrial function. We know, and these points suggest that the missing link between autism and environmental factors is mitochondria.

Robert McCarmsmith of the University of Toledo, a researcher on brain disease and not involved in mitochondrial research, said, 'It is not clear whether mitochondrial dysfunction is the cause of the disease or a secondary effect. 'Chicken first or egg first?' Commented. However, it is important to study what role mitochondria play in these diseases, and mitochondrial-targeted therapies result in patients even if they do not cure the disease. He added that there is promising evidence that it will be.

in Science,   Creature, Posted by logc_nt