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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Impact of mitochondrial inhibition on excitability and cytosolic Ca2+ levels in brainstem motoneurones from mouse.

Motoneurones (MNs) are particularly affected by the inhibition of mitochondrial metabolism, which has been linked to their selective vulnerability during pathophysiological states like hypoxia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. To elucidate underlying events, we used sodium cyanide (CN) as a pharmacological inhibitor of complex IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain ('chemical hypoxia') and investigated the cellular response in vulnerable and resistant neurone types. Bath application of 2 mm CN activated TTX-insensitive Na+ conductances in vulnerable hypoglossal MNs, which depolarized these MNs by 10.2 +/- 1.1 mV and increased their action potential activity. This response was mimicked by sodium azide (2 mm) and largely prevented by preincubation with the antioxidants ascorbic acid (1 mm) and Trolox (750 microm), indicating an involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the activation mechanism. CN also elevated cytosolic [Ca2+] levels through (i) Ca2+ release from mitochondria-controlled stores, (ii) significant retardation of cytosolic Ca2+ clearance rates, even when cytosolic ATP levels were held constant during whole-cell recording, and (iii) secondary Ca2+ influx during elevated firing rates. Blocking mitochondrial ATP production additionally raised cytosolic Ca2+ levels and prolonged recovery of Ca2+ transients with a delay of 5-6 min. Comparative studies on hypoglossal MNs, facial MNs and dorsal vagal neurones suggested that CN responses were dominated by the activation of K+ conductances in resistant neurones, thus reducing excitability during mitochondrial inhibition. In summary, our observations therefore support a model where selective MN vulnerability results from a synergistic accumulation of risk factors, including low cytosolic Ca2+ buffering, strong mitochondrial impact on [Ca2+]i, and a mitochondria-controlled increase in electrical excitability during metabolic disturbances.[1]


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