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Mitochondrial dysfunction in psychiatric morbidity: current evidence and therapeutic prospects

Authors Toker L, Agam G

Received 19 May 2015

Accepted for publication 10 August 2015

Published 24 September 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 2441—2447

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S70346

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Xiang Mou

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Lilach Toker,1 Galila Agam2,3

1Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; 2Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel; 3Mental Health Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Abstract: Cumulating evidence for the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in psychiatric disorders leaves little to no doubt regarding the involvement of this pathology in mood disorders. However, mitochondrial abnormalities are also observed in a wide range of disorders spanning from cancer and diabetes to various neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, autism, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The apparent lack of specificity questions the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in psychiatric disorders, in general, and in mood disorders, in particular. Is mitochondrial dysfunction a general phenomenon, simplistically rendering brain cells to be more vulnerable to a variety of disease-specific perturbations? Or is it an epiphenomenon induced by various disease-specific factors? Or possibly, the severity and the anatomical region of the dysfunction are the ones responsible for the distinct features of the disorders. Whichever of the aforementioned ones, if any, is correct, “mitochondrial dysfunction” became more of a cliché than a therapeutic target. In this review, we summarize current studies supporting the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in different psychiatric disorders. We address the question of specificity and causality of the different findings and provide an alternative explanation for some of the aforementioned questions.

Keywords: bipolar disorder, psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia, Stanley Foundation Brain Collection

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