In vivo real-time dynamics of ATP and ROS production in axonal mitochondria show decoupling in mouse models of peripheral neuropathies

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2019 Jun 11;7(1):86. doi: 10.1186/s40478-019-0740-4.


Mitochondria are critical for the function and maintenance of myelinated axons notably through Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. A direct by-product of this ATP production is reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are highly deleterious for neurons. While ATP shortage and ROS levels increase are involved in several neurodegenerative diseases, it is still unclear whether the real-time dynamics of both ATP and ROS production in axonal mitochondria are altered by axonal or demyelinating neuropathies. To answer this question, we imaged and quantified mitochondrial ATP and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in resting or stimulated peripheral nerve myelinated axons in vivo, using genetically-encoded fluorescent probes, two-photon time-lapse and CARS imaging. We found that ATP and H2O2 productions are intrinsically higher in nodes of Ranvier even in resting conditions. Axonal firing increased both ATP and H2O2 productions but with different dynamics: ROS production peaked shortly and transiently after the stimulation while ATP production increased gradually for a longer period of time. In neuropathic MFN2R94Q mice, mimicking Charcot-Marie-Tooth 2A disease, defective mitochondria failed to upregulate ATP production following axonal activity. However, elevated H2O2 production was largely sustained. Finally, inducing demyelination with lysophosphatidylcholine resulted in a reduced level of ATP while H2O2 level soared. Taken together, our results suggest that ATP and ROS productions are decoupled under neuropathic conditions, which may compromise axonal function and integrity.

Keywords: Axonal activity; Demyelination; MFN2; Mitochondria; ROS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Adenosine Triphosphate