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J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(3):1403-1416. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170585.

Mitochondria and Mitochondrial Cascades in Alzheimer's Disease.

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University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center and Departments of Neurology, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.


Decades of research indicate mitochondria from Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients differ from those of non-AD individuals. Initial studies revealed structural differences, and subsequent studies showed functional deficits. Observations of structure and function changes prompted investigators to consider the consequences, significance, and causes of AD-related mitochondrial dysfunction. Currently, extensive research argues mitochondria may mediate, drive, or contribute to a variety of AD pathologies. The perceived significance of these mitochondrial changes continues to grow, and many currently believe AD mitochondrial dysfunction represents a reasonable therapeutic target. Debate continues over the origin of AD mitochondrial changes. Some argue amyloid-β (Aβ) induces AD mitochondrial dysfunction, a view that does not challenge the amyloid cascade hypothesis and that may in fact help explain that hypothesis. Alternatively, data indicate mitochondrial dysfunction exists independent of Aβ, potentially lies upstream of Aβ deposition, and suggest a primary mitochondrial cascade hypothesis that assumes mitochondrial pathology hierarchically supersedes Aβ pathology. Mitochondria, therefore, appear at least to mediate or possibly even initiate pathologic molecular cascades in AD. This review considers studies and data that inform this area of AD research.


Alzheimer’s disease; bioenergetics; cascade; cytochrome oxidase; mitochondria

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