Calcium, mitochondria and oxidative stress in neuronal pathology. Novel aspects of an enduring theme

FEBS J. 2006 Feb;273(3):433-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2005.05103.x.


The interplay among reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, elevated intracellular calcium concentration and mitochondrial demise is a recurring theme in research focusing on brain pathology, both for acute and chronic neurodegenerative states. However, causality, extent of contribution or the sequence of these events prior to cell death is not yet firmly established. Here we review the role of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex as a newly identified source of mitochondrial ROS production. Furthermore, based on contemporary reports we examine novel concepts as potential mediators of neuronal injury connecting mitochondria, increased [Ca2+]c and ROS/reactive nitrogen species (RNS) formation; specifically: (a) the possibility that plasmalemmal nonselective cationic channels contribute to the latent [Ca2+]c rise in the context of glutamate-induced delayed calcium deregulation; (b) the likelihood of the involvement of the channels in the phenomenon of 'Ca2+ paradox' that might be implicated in ischemia/reperfusion injury; and (c) how ROS/RNS and mitochondrial status could influence the activity of these channels leading to loss of ionic homeostasis and cell death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Calcium