Inherited mitochondrial complex I mutations cause blinding Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), for which no curative therapy exists. A specific biochemical consequence of LHON mutations in the presence of trace rotenone was observed: deficient complex I-dependent ATP synthesis (CIDAS) and mitochondrial O2 consumption, proportional to the clinical severity of the three primary LHON mutations. We optimized a high-throughput assay of CIDAS to screen 1600 drugs to 2, papaverine and zolpidem, which protected CIDAS in LHON cells concentration-dependently. TSPO and cAMP were investigated as protective mechanisms, but a conclusive mechanism remains to be elucidated; next steps include testing in animal models.
Keywords: Complex I; High-throughput screening; LHON; Mitochondria.
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