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Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Glial Cells: Implications for Neuronal Homeostasis and Survival

Rose, Jordan, Brian, Christian, Woods, Jade, Pappa, Aglaia, Panayiotidis, Mihalis I., Powers, Robert, Franco, Rodrigo
Toxicology 2017
antioxidant activity, astrocytes, brain, cell death, disease course, electrons, energy, energy requirements, glycolysis, homeostasis, mitochondria, nervous system diseases, neurons, oligodendroglia, oxidative phosphorylation, pathogenesis
Mitochondrial dysfunction is central to the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. Neurons rely on oxidative phosphorylation to meet their energy requirements and thus alterations in mitochondrial function are linked to energy failure and neuronal cell death. Furthermore, dysfunctional mitochondria are reported to increase the steady-state levels of reactive oxygen species derived from the leakage of electrons from the electron transport chain. Research aimed at understanding mitochondrial dysfunction and its role in neurological disorders has been primarily geared towards neurons. In contrast, the role that dysfunctional mitochondria have in glial cells’ function and its implication for neuronal homeostasis and brain function has been largely understudied. Except for oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and microglia do not degenerate upon the impairment of mitochondrial function, as they rely primarily on glycolysis to produce energy and have a higher antioxidant capacity than neurons. However, recent evidence highlights the role of mitochondrial metabolism and signaling in glial cell function. In this work, we review the functional role of mitochondria in glial cells and the evidence regarding its potential role regulating neuronal homeostasis and disease progression.