Current Drug Targets

Francis J. Castellino
Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Biochemistry
Director, W.M. Keck Center for Transgene Research
Dean Emeritus, College of Science
230 Raclin-Carmichael Hall, University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556


Techniques to Investigate Neuronal Mitochondrial Function and its Pharmacological Modulation

Author(s): Jorge M.A. Oliveira

Affiliation: Faculdade de Farmacia da Universidade do Porto, Rua Anibal Cunha, 164, 4050-047 Porto, Portugal.

Keywords: Mitochondria, neurons, respiration, membrane potential, biogenesis, mitochondrial dynamics, live imaging, calcium, ionophores, oxygen consumption


Mitochondria are central regulators of neuronal homeostasis and survival, and increasingly viewed as a drug target in several acute and chronic neurological disorders, e.g. stroke, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and Huntingtons diseases. Frequent working hypotheses aim to establish whether and how chemical or genetic lesions affect mitochondrial function in neurons, and whether this can be rescued by pharmacological treatments. However, the generic designation ‘mitochondrial function’ actually encompasses a wide spectrum of individual activities, too numerous to be fully quantified by any single available technique. This review aims to provide a broad perspective on the roles played by neuronal mitochondria, and addresses multiple techniques that can be used to derive instructive functional indicators. These include measurements of mitochondrial respiration, ATP production, membrane potential, calcium handling, biogenesis, dynamic movement as well as fusion and fission. Technique descriptions are preceded by a summary of mitochondrial physiology and pharmacological tools required for functional modulation and parameter determination. Hopefully, these will assist researchers interested in testing mitochondria as a drug target in neurological disease models.

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Article Details

Page: [762 - 773]
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.2174/138945011795528895