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, 273 (21), 12753-7

Energy Thresholds in Brain Mitochondria. Potential Involvement in Neurodegeneration


Energy Thresholds in Brain Mitochondria. Potential Involvement in Neurodegeneration

G P Davey et al. J Biol Chem.


Decreases in mitochondrial respiratory chain complex activities have been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. However, the extent to which these decreases cause a disturbance in oxidative phosphorylation and energy homeostasis in the brain is not known. We therefore examined the relative contribution of individual mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes to the control of NAD-linked substrate oxidative phosphorylation in synaptic mitochondria. Titration of complex I, III, and IV activities with specific inhibitors generated threshold curves that showed the extent to which a complex activity could be inhibited before causing impairment of mitochondrial energy metabolism. Complex I, III, and IV activities were decreased by approximately 25, 80, and 70%, respectively, before major changes in rates of oxygen consumption and ATP synthesis were observed. These results suggest that, in mitochondria of synaptic origin, complex I activity has a major control of oxidative phosphorylation, such that when a threshold of 25% inhibition is exceeded, energy metabolism is severely impaired, resulting in a reduced synthesis of ATP. Additionally, depletion of glutathione, which has been reported to be a primary event in idiopathic Parkinson's disease, eliminated the complex I threshold in PC12 cells, suggesting that antioxidant status is important in maintaining energy thresholds in mitochondria. The implications of these findings are discussed with respect to neurodegenerative disorders and energy metabolism in the synapse.

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