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In Parkinson's disease, brain cells abandon mitochondria, researchers report
Date:10/7/2010

related to mitochondrial function and energy production. Suppressing these genes is likely to severely damage components required for brain energy metabolism. One of these components is the electron transport chain; a set of reactions controlled by mitochondria that generates the energy cells need to function. Other studies have hinted that one of the five complexes making up the electron transport chain malfunctions in Parkinson's. Yet, Scherzer and colleagues found that not just one, but virtually all of the components needed by mitochondria to build the electron transport chain are deficient.

Why would the brain, being so highly energy dependent, abandon its entire energy-producing apparatus? That seems to be the core mystery of Parkinson's disease. Some think that mitochondrial activity may be affected by a combination of genes and the environment.

"I believe that environmental chemicals, risk genes, and agingeach having a small effect when taken separatelyin combination may lead to the pervasive electron transport chain deficit we found in common Parkinson's disease and to which dopamine neurons might be intrinsically more susceptible," said senior author Clemens Scherzer, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.


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Contact: Natasha Pinol
npinol@aaas.org
202-326-7088
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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