Importance of the field: With improvements in life expectancy over the past decades, the incidence of neurodegenerative disease has dramatically increased and new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. One possible approach is to target mitochondrial dysfunction, which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of numerous neurodegenerative disorders.
Areas covered in this review: This review examines the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegeneration, drawing examples from common diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and rarer familial disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth. The review is provided in two parts. In part I we discussed the mitochondrial defects which have been most extensively researched (oxidative stress, bioenergetic dysfunction, calcium mishandling). We focus now on those defects which have more recently been implicated in neurodegeneration; in mitochondrial fusion/fission, protein import, protein quality control, kinase signalling and opening of the permeability transition pore.
What the reader will gain: An examination of mitochondrial defects observed in neurodegeneration, and existing and possible future therapies to target these defects.
Take home message: The mitochondrially-targeted therapeutics that have reached clinical trials so far have produced encouraging but largely inconclusive results. Increasing understanding of mitochondrial dysfunction has, however, led to preclinical work focusing on novel approaches, which has generated exciting preliminary data.