Psychiatric disorders and mitochondrial dysfunctions

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Feb;16(2):270-5.


Background: Mitochondria play a key role in the production of the cell energy. The final product of this process is adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used as a source of chemical energy. Besides this major role, mithocondria have been shown to be involved in other functions, such as signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, as well as the control of the cell cycle and cell growth. The aim of this paper is to highlight the relationships between psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BD), autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer's dementia.

Results: The review of the available literature indicate that different mitochondrial dysfunctions may accompany and/or be part of the clinical picture of some neuropsychiatric disorders.

Conclusions: Different data would indicate that mitochondrial dysfunctions may be involved in the pathophysiology of different neuropsychiatric disorders, given their key role in the cell energy metabolism. Moreover, they would greatly contribute to the process of neural apoptosis that should be at the basis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's dementia and the most severe forms of BD. In addition, data are available that mithocondrial abnormalities are present also in developmental disorders, such as autism and ADHD, although the studies aiming at elucidating the role of mithocondria in the onset and pathophysiology of all these conditions should be considered preliminary. In any case, taken together, these scattered findings would suggest novel drugs targeting protecting mitochondria from oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • DNA / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / complications*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / psychology*
  • Mood Disorders / genetics
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / genetics
  • Schizophrenic Psychology


  • DNA