Characterization of mitochondria-associated ER membranes in the enteric nervous system under physiological and pathological conditions

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2024 Mar 1;326(3):G330-G343. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00224.2023. Epub 2024 Jan 16.


Alterations in endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria associations and in mitochondria-associated ER membrane (MAM) behavior have been reported in the brain in several neurodegenerative diseases. Despite the emerging role of the gut-brain axis in neurodegenerative disorders, the biology of MAM in the enteric nervous system (ENS) has not previously been studied. Therefore, we set out to characterize the MAM in the distal colon of wild-type C57BL/6J mice and senescence-accelerated mouse prone 8 (SAMP8), a mouse model of age-related neurodegeneration. We showed for the first time that MAMs are widely present in enteric neurons and that their association is altered in SAMP8 mice. We then examined the functions of MAMs in a primary culture model of enteric neurons and showed that calcium homeostasis was altered in SAMP8 mice when compared with control animals. These findings provide the first detailed characterization of MAMs in the ENS under physiological conditions and during age-associated neurodegeneration. Further investigation of MAM modifications in the ENS in disease may provide valuable information about the possible role of enteric MAMs in neurodegenerative diseases.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our work shows for the first time the presence of contacts between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in the enteric neurons and that the dynamic of these contacts is affected in these cells from an age-related neurodegeneration mouse model. It provides new insights into the potential role of enteric mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum membrane in neurodegenerative disorders.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; aging; enteric nervous system; mitochondria-associated ER membranes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Enteric Nervous System*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria Associated Membranes
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*