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Synaptic Mitochondria and Fatty Acid Metabolism: Keys to Brain Health and Neurodegeneration!

These tiny powerhouses generate ATP through oxidative phosphorylation, maintain calcium balance via the mitochondrial calcium uniporter, and manage reactive oxygen species (ROS) with antioxidant systems like superoxide dismutase.


Excitingly, recent research shows they can also use fatty acids as fuel! Through beta-oxidation, fatty acids are broken down into acetyl-CoA, which enters the TCA cycle to produce ATP. This flexibility supports the high energy demands of synapses.

Mitochondrial dynamics, involving fission (Drp1) and fusion (Mfn1/2, OPA1), ensure healthy function and distribution. Mitophagy, regulated by PINK1 and Parkin, maintains mitochondrial quality. These processes are vital for synaptic vesicle cycling, neurotransmitter release, and overall synaptic plasticity.


Understanding these mechanisms could pave the way for new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.


Antunes, B.C., T. Mateus, and V.A. Morais, In the Brain, It Is Not All about Sugar. NeuroSci, 2024. 5(2): p. 209-221.




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