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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2013 Jan;33(1):22-32. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.158. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

The dynamics of the mitochondrial organelle as a potential therapeutic target.

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State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology and Institute of Brain Sciences, Fudan University Shanghai Medical College, Shanghai, China.


Mitochondria play a central role in cell fate after stressors such as ischemic brain injury. The convergence of intracellular signaling pathways on mitochondria and their release of critical factors are now recognized as a default conduit to cell death or survival. Besides the individual processes that converge on or emanate from mitochondria, a mitochondrial organellar response to changes in the cellular environment has recently been described. Whereas mitochondria have previously been perceived as a major center for cellular signaling, one can postulate that the organelle's dynamics themselves affect cell survival. This brief perspective review puts forward the concept that disruptions in mitochondrial dynamics--biogenesis, clearance, and fission/fusion events--may underlie neural diseases and thus could be targeted as neuroprotective strategies in the context of ischemic injury. To do so, we present a general overview of the current understanding of mitochondrial dynamics and regulation. We then review emerging studies that correlate mitochondrial biogenesis, mitophagy, and fission/fusion events with neurologic disease and recovery. An overview of the system as it is currently understood is presented, and current assessment strategies and their limitations are discussed.

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