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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2009 Oct;41(5):411-6. doi: 10.1007/s10863-009-9239-1.

Is there a primary role of the mitochondrial genome in Alzheimer's disease?

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Neurological Clinic, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, Pisa, Italy.


The "mitochondrial cascade hypothesis" could explain many of the biochemical, genetic and pathological features of sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD). Somatic mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) could cause energy failure, increased oxidative stress and accumulation of amyloid beta, which in a vicious cycle reinforces mtDNA damage and oxidative stress. Despite the evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction in AD, and despite the cognitive impairment frequently reported in patients with mtDNA mutation, no causative mutation in the mtDNA have been linked to AD. Indeed, results of studies on the role of mtDNA polymorphisms or haplogroups in AD are controversial. In this minireview, we summarize the actual knowledge about the involvement of mtDNA in AD pathology.

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