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Neurochem Res. 2007 Apr-May;32(4-5):707-15. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Mitochondrial regulation of neuronal plasticity.

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Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


The structure and function of neurons is dynamic during development and in adaptive responses of the adult nervous system to environmental demands. The mechanisms that regulate neuronal plasticity are poorly understood, but are believed to involve neurotransmitter and neurotrophic factor signaling pathways. In the present article, I review emerging evidence that mitochondria play important roles in regulating developmental and adult neuroplasticity. In neurons, mitochondria are located in axons, dendrites, growth cones and pre- and post-synaptic terminals where their movements and functions are regulated by local signals such as neurotrophic factors and calcium influx. Mitochondria play important roles in fundamental developmental processes including the establishment of axonal polarity and the regulation of neurite outgrowth, and are also involved in synaptic plasticity in the mature nervous system. Abnormalities in mitochondria are associated with neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, suggesting a therapeutic potential for approaches that target mitochondrial mechanisms.

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