Mitochondrial respiratory deficiencies have been observed in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. For decades, these reductions in oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) have been presumed to trigger an overall bioenergetic crisis in the neuron, resulting in cell death. While the connection between respiratory defects and neuronal death has never been proven, this hypothesis has been supported by the detection of nonspecific mitochondrial DNA mutations in these disorders. These findings led to the notion that mitochondrial respiratory defects could be initiators of these common neurodegenerative disorders, instead of being consequences of a prior insult, a theory we believe to be misconstrued. Herein, we review the roots of this mitochondrial hypothesis and offer a new perspective wherein mitochondria are analyzed not only from the OxPhos point of view, but also as a complex organelle residing at the epicenter of many metabolic pathways.
Estela Area-Gomez, Cristina Guardia-Laguarta, Eric A. Schon, Serge Przedborski