The importance of dendritic mitochondria in the morphogenesis and plasticity of spines and synapses

Cell. 2004 Dec 17;119(6):873-87. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2004.11.003.


The proper intracellular distribution of mitochondria is assumed to be critical for normal physiology of neuronal cells, but direct evidence for this idea is lacking. Extension or movement of mitochondria into dendritic protrusions correlates with the development and morphological plasticity of spines. Molecular manipulations of dynamin-like GTPases Drp1 and OPA1 that reduce dendritic mitochondria content lead to loss of synapses and dendritic spines, whereas increasing dendritic mitochondrial content or mitochondrial activity enhances the number and plasticity of spines and synapses. Thus, the dendritic distribution of mitochondria is essential and limiting for the support of synapses. Reciprocally, synaptic activity modulates the motility and fusion/fission balance of mitochondria and controls mitochondrial distribution in dendrites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Creatine / pharmacology
  • Dendritic Spines / metabolism*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria*
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Opa1 protein, rat
  • Creatine