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The Effects of Energy Deficiency on Neurodegenerative Disorders


For years, researchers have hypothesized that there is a direct link between mitochondrial impairment and neurodegeneration, but until recently there were no assays sensitive enough to measure ATP and confirm these theories.

A current study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry used Leigh’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an inherited genetic mutation, to investigate the effects of impaired mitochondrial function on neuronal energy levels. The scientists tested neurons using the newly available, highly sensitive assays that can measure ATP. They found that the genetic mutation that causes Leigh’s disease causes significant cellular dysfunction. When vesicles in the cell release neurotransmitters, it takes a lot of energy to get those vesicles back into the cell after they have been released. In Leigh’s disease, the cells do not have enough energy to complete this function. Future studies will focus on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases to further explore the link between impaired mitochondria, loss of ATP, and neuronal dysfunction.

In addition to studying neurodegenerative disorders, it is important to study how healthy neurons process ATP as well. By blocking glycolysis, cells depend only on their mitochondria as their energy source. This allows scientists to study the various steps in the process where things can go wrong if the mitochondria do not function properly.

Will studying mitochondrial impairment be key to understanding high-profile neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease? What are the possible therapeutic advantages of understanding the roles of mitochondria, ATP, and neuronal function?

> Read the paper.

Enzo Life Sciences provides researchers with the following products that highlight mitochondrial function and measure ATP. In addition, Enzo will be attending Neuroscience 2015 in Chicago, October 17-21. Stop by booth 1363 to learn more about our neuroscience-related products.

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