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Eur J Pharmacol. 2002 Jul 5;447(2-3):177-88.

Mitochondria, Ca2+ and neurodegenerative disease.

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School of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.


Mitochondria play a central role in cell biology not only as producers of ATP, but also in the sequestration of Ca(2+) and the generation of free radicals. They are also repositories of several proteins which regulate apoptosis. Perturbations in the normal functions of mitochondria will inevitably disturb cell function, may sensitise cells to neurotoxic insults and may initiate cell death. Neuronal Ca(2+) overload, such as follows excessive stimulation of Ca(2+) permeant excitatory amino acid receptors, can cause cell death. Recent evidence suggests that the accumulation of Ca(2+) into mitochondria during episodes of cellular Ca(2+) overload initiates a cascade of events that culminate in cell death. Cell death appears to require not only mitochondrial Ca(2+) overload, but rather a combination of raised intramitochondrial Ca(2+) concentration with increased production of nitric oxide and possibly other oxyradical species. Cell death may proceed through either necrotic or apoptotic mechanisms, depending on the rate of consumption and depletion of ATP. Evidence is also accumulating to suggest that more subtle alterations in mitochondrial function may serve as predisposing factors in the pathogenesis of a number of neurodegenerative disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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