The early events of Alzheimer's disease pathology: from mitochondrial dysfunction to BDNF axonal transport deficits

Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jun;33(6):1122.e1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.11.004. Epub 2011 Dec 31.


Although there are numerous studies regarding Alzheimer's disease (AD), the cause and progression of AD are still not well understood. The researches in the past decade implicated amyloid-beta (Aβ) overproduction as a causative event in disease pathogenesis, but still failed to clarify the mechanism of pathology from Aβ production to central neural system defects in AD. The present review raises the hypothesis that the onset of AD pathology is closely related with mitochondrial dysfunction induced by Aβ and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) axonal transport deficits. It is well-known that axonal transport defect and attenuation of BDNF-neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase 2 (TrkB) signal are fatal to neuronal function and survival. We hypothesized that abnormal amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing and Aβ production in mitochondria disturb the axonal transport by impairing mitochondrial function and attenuate BDNF-neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase 2 signal subsequently. For this hypothesis, the factors related with the initiation of AD pathology are not only limited to the neurons per se but also expanded to the microenvironment around neurons, such as the secretion of BDNF from astrocytes. The modification of the origin in this pathway may contribute to slow down the disease progression of AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / genetics*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / deficiency*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / pathology*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor