Mitophagy impairment in neurodegenerative diseases: Pathogenesis and therapeutic interventions

Mitochondrion. 2021 Mar;57:270-293. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2021.01.001. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Neurons are specialized cells, requiring a lot of energy for its proper functioning. Mitochondria are the key cellular organelles and produce most of the energy in the form of ATP, required for all the crucial functions of neurons. Hence, the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and quality control is important for maintaining neuronal health. As a part of mitochondrial quality control, the aged and damaged mitochondria are removed through a selective mode of autophagy called mitophagy. However, in different pathological conditions, this process is impaired in neuronal cells and lead to a variety of neurodegenerative disease (NDD). Various studies indicate that specific protein aggregates, the characteristics of different NDDs, affect this process of mitophagy, adding to the severity and progression of diseases. Though, the detailed process of this association is yet to be explored. In light of the significant role of impaired mitophagy in NDDs, further studies have also investigated a large number of therapeutic strategies to target mitophagy in these diseases. Our current review summarizes the abnormalities in different mitophagy pathways and their association with different NDDs. We have also elaborated upon various novel therapeutic strategies and their limitations to enhance mitophagy in NDDs that may help in the management of symptoms and increasing the life expectancy of NDD patients. Thus, our study provides an overview of mitophagy in NDDs and emphasizes the need to elucidate the mechanism of impaired mitophagy prevalent across different NDDs in future research. This will help designing better treatment options with high efficacy and specificity.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Huntington diseases; Mitochondria; Mitophagy; Neurodegenerative diseases; Parkinson disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitophagy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*


  • Biomarkers