‘Self-eating’ mitochondria may make the brain vulnerable to Lou Gehrig’s disease

| | November 20, 2019
cfd faa o
Stephen Hawking
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A newly discovered type of mitochondrial self-destruction may make some brain cells vulnerable to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In mice genetically engineered to develop some forms of a degenerative nerve disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, energy-generating organelles called mitochondria appear to dismantle themselves without help from usual cell demolition crews.

This type of power plant self-destruction was spotted in upper motor neurons, brain nerve cells that help initiate and control movements, but not in neighboring cells, researchers report November 7 in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. Death of those upper motor neurons is a hallmark of ALS, and the self-destructing mitochondria may be an early step that sets those cells up to die later.

Related article:  ALS patients more likely to have other mental, behavioral problems

Pembe Hande Özdinler, a cellular neuroscientist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and her colleagues have dubbed the mitochondrial dissolution “mitoautophagy.”

“It’s self-eating itself. That’s why we said, ‘This isn’t normal. This we have never seen before,’” Özdinler says. Self-eating mitochondria may somehow make upper motor neurons more vulnerable to ALS later in life. Details of that vulnerability haven’t been worked out yet.

Read full, original post: Self-destructing mitochondria may leave some brain cells vulnerable to ALS

Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend