Mitochondria are organelles found in large numbers in most cells, in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of cells. They generate the cells supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) a source of chemical energy.

In addition to supplying cellular energy, mitochondria are involved in other tasks such as signalling, cellular differentiation and cell death, as well as maintaining control of the cell cycle and cell growth. 

Although most of a cell's DNA is contained in the cell nucleus, the mitochondrion has its own independent genome that shows substantial similarity to bacterial genomes. This important finding has led scientists to exciting new areas of Parkinson's research in mitochondria - namely biomarkers of PD in the blood. The mitochondrial genetic codes supply information that allows the mitochondria to make the proteins it needs to create energy. When these genes contain mistakes (mutations) and because of the important job that mitochondria do, these mistakes cause disease.  

The environment within our cells is closely monitored and maintained at the optimum conditions to safeguard correct functioning. Mitochondria are crucial to help preserve this environment and one of their most important processes is to take up calcium. Calcium is important within cells as a signalling molecule for certain processes to occur. This signalling needs to be regulated and so the mitochondria store calcium and release it when it is required. Too much free calcium within the cell would be detrimental to the finely tuned regulation of processes within the cell - 'Calcium channels - why are they an important target for CPT?'

Why is CPT interested in Mitochondrial Dysfunction?

If mitochondria are affected by disease, the cells cease to function well.  It has long been recognised that mitochondrial dysfunction is critically involved in the demise of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease and our research projects listed below target this important research area. See Our Projects and Progress.

Professor Patrik Brundin - MSDC-0160 

Professor Matthew Wood - MicroRNAs MiR-1974 and MiR-1978

Professor Kambiz Alavian - Mitochondrial bioenergetics

Further reading:

Mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease: molecular mechanisms and pathophysiological consequences -http://emboj.embopress.org/content/31/14/3038.abstract