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Adv Pharmacol. 2012;64:327-71. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394816-8.00010-6.

Estrogen regulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics: implications for prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

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1
Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease with a complex and progressive pathological phenotype characterized first by hypometabolism and impaired mitochondrial bioenergetics followed by pathological burden. Increasing evidence indicates an antecedent and potentially causal role of mitochondrial bioenergetic deficits and brain hypometabolism coupled with increased mitochondrial oxidative stress in AD pathogenesis. Compromised aerobic glycolysis pathway coupled with oxidative stress is first accompanied by a shift toward a ketogenic pathway that eventually progresses into fatty acid oxidation (FAO) pathways and leads to white matter degeneration and overproduction and mitochondrial accumulation of β-amyloid. Estrogen-induced signaling pathways converge upon the mitochondria to enhance mitochondrial function and to sustain aerobic glycolysis coupled with citric acid cycle-driven oxidative phosphorylation to potentiate ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) generation. In addition to potentiated mitochondrial bioenergetics, estrogen also enhances neural survival and health through maintenance of calcium homeostasis, promotion of antioxidant defense against free radicals, efficient cholesterol trafficking, and beta amyloid clearance. Significantly, the convergence of E2 mechanisms of action onto mitochondria is also a potential point of vulnerability when activated in diseased neurons that exacerbates degeneration through increased load on dysregulated calcium homeostasis. The "healthy cell bias of estrogen action" hypothesis examines the role that regulating mitochondrial function and bioenergetics play in promoting neural health and the mechanistic crossroads that lead to divergent outcomes following estrogen exposure. As the continuum of neurological health progresses from healthy to unhealthy, so too do the benefits of estrogen or hormone therapy.

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