Examining the Risk Factors in Neurodegeneration

(March 2019)

Brain is the most energetically demanding organ of the body, and is thus vulnerable to even modest decline in ATP generation. Multiple neurodegenerative diseases are associated with decline in mitochondrial function, e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and multiple neuropathies. Genetic variances in the mitochondrial genome can modify bioenergetic and respiratory phenotypes, at both the cellular and system biology levels. Mitochondrial haplotype can be a key driver of mitochondrial efficiency. Herein, we focus on the association between mitochondrial haplotype and risk of late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). Evidence for the association of mitochondrial genetic variances/haplotypes and the risk of developing LOAD are explored and discussed. Further, we provide a conceptual framework that suggests an interaction between mitochondrial haplotypes and two demonstrated risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and chromosomal sex. We posit herein that mitochondrial haplotype, and hence respiratory capacity, plays a key role in determining risk of LOAD and other age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Further, therapeutic design and targeting that involve mitochondrial haplotype would advance precision medicine for AD and other age related neurodegenerative diseases.

Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) plays a crucial role in the homeostatic control of lipids in both the periphery and the central nervous system (CNS). In humans, ApoE exists in three different isoforms: ε2, ε3 and ε4. ApoE ε3 is the most common isoform, while the ε4 isoform confers the greatest genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the mechanisms underlying how ApoE contributes to the pathogenesis of AD are still debated. ApoE has been shown to impact amyloid β (Aβ) deposition and clearance in the brain. ApoE also has Aβ-independent pathways in AD, which has led to the discovery of new roles of ApoE ranging from mitochondria dysfunction to, most recently, iron metabolism. Here, we review the role of ApoE in health and in AD, with the view of identifying therapeutic approaches that could prevent the risk associated with the ε4 isoform.

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