Healthy brain activity requires precise ion and energy management creating a strong reliance on mitochondrial function. Age-related neurodegeneration leads to a decline in mitochondrial function and increased oxidative stress, with associated declines in mitochondrial mass, respiration capacity, and respiration efficiency. The interdependent processes of mitochondrial protein turnover and mitochondrial dynamics, known together as mitochondrial remodeling, play essential roles in mitochondrial health and therefore brain function. This mini-review describes the role of mitochondria in neurodegeneration and brain health, current practices for assessing both aspects of mitochondrial remodeling, and how exercise mitigates the adverse effects of aging in the brain. Exercise training elicits functional adaptations to improve brain health, and current literature strongly suggests that mitochondrial remodeling plays a vital role in these positive adaptations. Despite substantial implications that the two aspects of mitochondrial remodeling are interdependent, very few investigations have simultaneously measured mitochondrial dynamics and protein synthesis. An improved understanding of the partnership between mitochondrial protein turnover and mitochondrial dynamics will provide a better understanding of their role in both brain health and disease, as well as how they induce protection following exercise.
Keywords: brain; exercise; mitochondria; mitochondria remodeling; neurodegeneration.