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Life Extension Magazine November 2011

Mitochondrial Biogenesis

Mitochondrial and cell death mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are the most common human adult-onset neurodegenerative diseases. They are characterized by prominent age-related neurodegeneration in selectively vulnerable neural systems. Some forms of AD, PD, and ALS are inherited, and genes causing these diseases have been identified. Nevertheless, the mechanisms of the neuronal cell death are unresolved. Morphological, biochemical, genetic, as well as cell and animal model studies reveal that mitochondria could have roles in this neurodegeneration. The functions and properties of mitochondria might render subsets of selectively vulnerable neurons intrinsically susceptible to cellular aging and stress and overlying genetic variations, triggering neurodegeneration according to a cell death matrix theory. In AD, alterations in enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation, oxidative damage, and mitochondrial binding of Aβ and amyloid precursor protein have been reported. In PD, mutations in putative mitochondrial proteins have been identified and mitochondrial DNA mutations have been found in neurons in the substantia nigra. In ALS, changes occur in mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes and mitochondrial cell death proteins. Transgenic mouse models of human neurodegenerative disease are beginning to reveal possible principles governing the biology of selective neuronal vulnerability that implicate mitochondria and the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. This review summarizes how mitochondrial pathobiology might contribute to neuronal death in AD, PD, and ALS and could serve as a target for drug therapy.

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(4):839-915

Pyrroloquinoline quinone stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis through cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and increased PGC-1alpha expression.

Bioactive compounds reported to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis are linked to many health benefits such increased longevity, improved energy utilization, and protection from reactive oxygen species. Previously studies have shown that mice and rats fed diets lacking in pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) have reduced mitochondrial content. Therefore, we hypothesized that PQQ can induce mitochondrial biogenesis in mouse hepatocytes. Exposure of mouse Hepa1-6 cells to 10-30 microm PQQ for 24-48 h resulted in increased citrate synthase and cytochrome c oxidase activity, Mitotracker staining, mitochondrial DNA content, and cellular oxygen respiration. The induction of this process occurred through the activation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1alpha), a pathway known to regulate mitochondrial biogenesis. PQQ exposure stimulated phosphorylation of CREB at serine 133, activated the promoter of PGC-1alpha, and increased PGC-1alpha mRNA and protein expression. PQQ did not stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis after small interfering RNA-mediated reduction in either PGC-1alpha or CREB expression. Consistent with activation of the PGC-1alpha pathway, PQQ increased nuclear respiratory factor activation (NRF-1 and NRF-2) and Tfam, TFB1M, and TFB2M mRNA expression. Moreover, PQQ protected cells from mitochondrial inhibition by rotenone, 3-nitropropionic acid, antimycin A, and sodium azide. The ability of PQQ to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis accounts in part for action of this compound and suggests that PQQ may be beneficial in diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.

J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 1;285(1):142-52

Mitochondria-targeted peptide antioxidants: novel neuroprotective agents.

Increasing evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress play a crucial role in the majority of neurodegenerative diseases. Mitochondria are a major source of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Oxidative damage to mitochondria has been shown to impair mitochondrial function and lead to cell death via apoptosis and necrosis. Because dysfunctional mitochondria will produce more ROS, a feed-forward loop is set up whereby ROS-mediated oxidative damage to mitochondria favors more ROS generation, resulting in a vicious cycle. It is now appreciated that reduction of mitochondrial oxidative stress may prevent or slow down the progression of these neurodegenerative disorders. However, if mitochondria are the major source of intracellular ROS and mitochondria are most vulnerable to oxidative damage, then it would be ideal to deliver the antioxidant therapy to mitochondria. This review will summarize the development of a novel class of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants that can protect mitochondria against oxidative stress and prevent neuronal cell death in animal models of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

AAPS J. 2006 Aug 18;8(3):E521-31

Effects of age, dietary, and behavioral enrichment on brain mitochondria in a canine model of human aging.

Dogs develop cognitive decline and a progressive accumulation of oxidative damage. In a previous longitudinal study, we demonstrated that aged dogs treated with either an antioxidant diet or with behavioral enrichment show cognitive improvement. The antioxidant diet included cellular antioxidants (vitamins E and C, fruits and vegetables) and mitochondrial cofactors (lipoic acid and carnitine). Behavioral enrichment consisted of physical exercise, social enrichment, and cognitive training. We hypothesized that the antioxidant treatment improved neuronal function through increased mitochondrial function. Thus, we measured reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and bioenergetics in mitochondria isolated from young, aged, and treated aged animals. Aged canine brain mitochondria show significant increases in ROS production and a reduction in NADH-linked respiration. Mitochondrial function (ROS and NADH-linked respiration) was improved selectively in aged dogs treated with an antioxidant diet. In contrast, behavioral enrichment had no effect on any mitochondrial parameters. These results suggest that an antioxidant diet improves cognition by maintaining mitochondrial homeostasis, which may be an independent molecular pathway not engaged by behavioral enrichment.

Exp Neurol. 2009 Nov;220(1):171-6

Brain mitochondrial dysfunction in aging.

Aging of mammalian brain is associated with a continuous decrease of the capacity to produce ATP by oxidative phosphorylation. The impairment of mitochondrial function is mainly due to diminished electron transfer by complexes I and IV, whereas inner membrane H+ impermeability and F1-ATP synthase activity are only slightly affected. Dysfunctional mitochondria in aged rodents show decreased rates of respiration and of electron transfer, decreased membrane potential, increased content of the oxidation products of phospholipids and proteins, and increased size and fragility. In aging mice, the activities of brain mitochondrial enzymes (complexes I and IV and mtNOS) are linearly correlated with neurological performance (tightrope and T-maze tests) and with median life span and negatively correlated with the mitochondrial content of lipid and protein oxidation products. Conditions that increased mice median life span, such as moderate exercise, vitamin E supplementation, caloric restriction, and high spontaneous neurological activity; also improved neurological performance and mitochondrial function in aged brain. The diffusion of mitochondrial NO and H2O2 to the cytosol is decreased in the aged brain and may be a factor for reduced mitochondrial biogenesis.

IUBMB Life. 2008 May;60(5):308-14

The mitochondrial-lysosomal axis theory of aging: accumulation of damaged mitochondria as a result of imperfect autophagocytosis.

Cellular manifestations of aging are most pronounced in postmitotic cells, such as neurons and cardiac myocytes. Alterations of these cells, which are responsible for essential functions of brain and heart, are particularly important contributors to the overall aging process. Mitochondria and lysosomes of postmitotic cells suffer the most remarkable age-related alterations of all cellular organelles. Many mitochondria undergo enlargement and structural disorganization, while lysosomes, which are normally responsible for mitochondrial turnover, gradually accumulate an undegradable, polymeric, autofluorescent material called lipofuscin, or age pigment. We believe that these changes occur not only due to continuous oxidative stress (causing oxidation of mitochondrial constituents and autophagocytosed material), but also because of the inherent inability of cells to completely remove oxidatively damaged structures (biological ‘garbage’). A possible factor limiting the effectiveness of mitochondial turnover is the enlargement of mitochondria which may reflect their impaired fission. Non-autophagocytosed mitochondria undergo further oxidative damage, resulting in decreasing energy production and increasing generation of reactive oxygen species. Damaged, enlarged and functionally disabled mitochondria gradually displace normal ones, which cannot replicate indefinitely because of limited cell volume. Although lipofuscin-loaded lysosomes continue to receive newly synthesized lysosomal enzymes, the pigment is undegradable. Therefore, advanced lipofuscin accumulation may greatly diminish lysosomal degradative capacity by preventing lysosomal enzymes from targeting to functional autophagosomes, further limiting mitochondrial recycling. This interrelated mitochondrial and lysosomal damage irreversibly leads to functional decay and death of postmitotic cells.

Eur J Biochem. 2002 Apr;269(8):1996-2002

Mitochondrial dysfunction - the beginning of the end in Alzheimer’s disease? Separate and synergistic modes of tau and amyloid-β toxicity.

ABSTRACT: The pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by amyloid plaques (aggregates of amyloid-β (Aβ)) and neurofibrillary tangles (aggregates of tau) and is accompanied by mitochondrial dysfunction, but the mechanisms underlying this dysfunction are poorly understood. In this review, we discuss the critical role of mitochondria and the close inter-relationship of this organelle with the two main pathological features in the pathogenic process underlying AD. Moreover, we summarize evidence from AD post-mortem brain as well as cellular and animal AD models showing that Aβ and tau protein trigger mitochondrial dysfunction through a number of pathways, such as impairment of oxidative phosphorylation, elevation of reactive oxygen species production, alteration of mitochondrial dynamics, and interaction with mitochondrial proteins. A vicious cycle as well as several vicious circles within the cycle, each accelerating the other, can be drawn, emphasizing the synergistic deterioration of mitochondria by tau and Aβ.

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2011 May 5;3(2):15

Delaying the mitochondrial decay of aging with acetylcarnitine.

Oxidative mitochondrial decay is a major contributor to aging. Some of this decay can be reversed in old rats by feeding them normal mitochondrial metabolites, acetylcarnitine (ALC) and lipoic acid (LA), at high levels. Feeding the substrate ALC with LA, a mitochondrial antioxidant, restores the velocity of the reaction (K(m)) for ALC transferase and mitochondrial function. The principle appears to be that, with age, increased oxidative damage to protein causes a deformation of structure of key enzymes with a consequent lessening of affinity (K(m)) for the enzyme substrate. The effect of age on the enzyme-binding affinity can be mimicked by reacting it with malondialdehyde (a lipid peroxidation product that increases with age). In old rats (vs. young rats), mitochondrial membrane potential, cardiolipin level, respiratory control ratio, and cellular O(2) uptake are lower; oxidants/O(2), neuron RNA oxidation, and mutagenic aldehydes from lipid peroxidation are higher. Ambulatory activity and cognition decline with age. Feeding old rats ALC with LA for a few weeks restores mitochondrial function; lowers oxidants, neuron RNA oxidation, and mutagenic aldehydes; and increases rat ambulatory activity and cognition (as assayed with the Skinner box and Morris water maze). A recent meta-analysis of 21 double-blind clinical trials of ALC in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease showed significant efficacy vs. placebo. A meta-analysis of 4 clinical trials of LA for treatment of neuropathic deficits in diabetes showed significant efficacy vs. placebo.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:108-16

Brain mitochondria as a primary target in the development of treatment strategies for Alzheimer disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and cerebrovascular accidents are two leading causes of age-related dementia. Increasing evidence supports the idea that chronic hypoperfusion is primarily responsible for the pathogenesis that underlies both disease processes. In this regard, hypoperfusion appears to induce oxidative stress (OS), which is largely due to reactive oxygen species (ROS), and over time initiates mitochondrial failure which is known as an initiating factor of AD. Recent evidence indicates that chronic injury stimulus induces hypoperfusion seen in vulnerable brain regions. This reduced regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) then leads to energy failure within the vascular endothelium and associated brain parenchyma, manifested by damaged mitochondrial ultrastructure (the formation of large number of immature, electron-dense “hypoxic” mitochondria) and by overproduction of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions. Additionally, these mitochondrial abnormalities co-exist with increased redox metal activity, lipid peroxidation, and RNA oxidation. Interestingly, vulnerable neurons and glial cells show mtDNA deletions and

oxidative stress markers only in the regions that are closely associated with damaged vessels, and, moreover, brain vascular wall lesions linearly correlate with the degree of neuronal and glial cell damage. We summarize the large body of evidence which indicates that sporadic, late-onset AD results from a vascular etiology by briefly reviewing mitochondrial damage and vascular risk factors associated with the disease and then we discuss the cerebral microvascular changes reason for the energy failure that occurs in normal aging and, to a much greater extent, AD.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;41(10):1989-2004

Mitochondrial dysfunction in long-term neuronal cultures mimics changes with aging.

BACKGROUND: Aging is a highly complex process that affects various tissues and systems in the body. Senescent changes are relatively more prevalent and severe in the postmitotic cells. Mitochondria play an important role in the aging process. Recently, cell cultures have been widely used as an in vitro model to study aging. The present study was designed to investigate mitochondrial dysfunction associated with aging in a long-term cell culture system. MATERIAL/METHODS: Rat hippocampal neurons were maintained in culture in serum-free medium for 30 days in vitro (DIV). The morphology and development of hippocampal neurons was observed by phase contrast microscope. The levels of cellular senescence were evaluated by cytochemical staining of senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-Gal) at DIV 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30. In addition, we investigated the changes in mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation of hippocampal neurons by flow cytometry at different ages. RESULTS: The proportion of the senescent cells steadily increased with age in neuron cultures. Δψm decreased gradually with age in long-term culture, while ROS generation increased. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates an age-related decrease in mitochondrial function in long-term hippocampal neuronal culture and suggests that DIV 25 neurons could possibly serve as a platform for the future study of anti-aging from the perspective of mitochondrial function.

Med Sci Monit. 2011 Apr;17(4):BR91-6

Regulation of neuron mitochondrial biogenesis and relevance to brain health.

Mitochondrial dysfunction has severe cellular consequences, and is linked to aging and neurological disorders in humans. Impaired energy supply or Ca(2+) buffering, increased ROS production, or control of apoptosis by mitochondria may contribute to the progressive decline of long-lived postmitotic cells. Mitochondrial biogenesis refers to the process via which cells increase their individual mitochondrial mass. Mitochondrial biogenesis may represent an attempt by cells to increase their aerobic set point, or an attempt to maintain a pre-existing aerobic set point in the face of declining mitochondrial function. Neuronal mitochondrial biogenesis itself has been poorly studied, but investigations from other tissues and model systems suggest a series of transcription factors, transcription co-activators, and signal transduction proteins should function to regulate mitochondrial number and mass within neurons. We review data pertinent to the mitochondrial biogenesis field, and discuss implications for brain aging and neurodegenerative disease research efforts.

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jan;1802(1):228-34