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Mitochondrial optic neuropathy: In vivo model of neurodegeneration and neuroprotective strategies

Authors Rojas J, Gonzalez-Lima F

Published 11 March 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 21—37

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/EB.S9363

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Julio C Rojas, Francisco Gonzalez-Lima

Departments of Psychology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

Abstract: This review summarizes the characteristics of a rodent toxicologic model of optic neuropathy induced by the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor rotenone. This model has been developed to fulfill the demand for a drug-screening tool providing a sound mechanistic context to address the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. It features biochemical, structural, and functional retinal deficits that resemble those of patients with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, a mitochondrial disease characterized by selective degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, and for which an environmental component is believed to play a major triggering role. The available data support the efficiency, sensitivity, and versatility of the model for providing insights into the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, including mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. Screening work with this model has provided proof-of-principle that interventions targeting the electron transport chain, such as USP methylene blue and near-infrared light therapy, are effective at preventing neurodegeneration induced by mitochondrial dysfunction in vivo. Prospective developments of this model include the use of neuronal reporter genes for in vivo non-invasive assessment of retinal degeneration at different time points, and its combination with genetic approaches to elucidate the synergism of environmental and genetic factors in neurodegeneration.

Keywords: animal model, neuroprotection, mitochondrial dysfunction, visual function, oxidative stress, cytochrome oxidase

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