Mitochondrial dynamics is a term that encompasses the movement of mitochondria along the cytoskeleton, regulation of their architecture, and connectivity mediated by tethering and fusion/fission. The importance of these events in cell physiology and pathology has been partially unraveled with the identification of the genes responsible for the catalysis of mitochondrial fusion and fission. Mutations in two mitochondrial fusion genes (MFN2 and OPA1) cause neurodegenerative diseases, namely Charcot-Marie Tooth type 2A and autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA). Alterations in mitochondrial dynamics may be involved in the pathophysiology of prevalent neurodegenerative conditions. Moreover, impairment of the activity of mitochondrial fusion proteins dysregulates the function of hypothalamic neurons, leading to alterations in food intake and in energy homeostasis. Here we review selected findings in the field of mitochondrial dynamics and their relevance for neurodegeneration and hypothalamic dysfunction.
Keywords: food intake; mitochondrial fission; mitochondrial fusion; mitofusin 2; neurodegenerative diseases; obesity.