Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 20, pp 3435–3447

Mitochondrial dynamics in cell death and neurodegeneration

  • Dong-Hyung Cho
  • Tomohiro Nakamura
  • Stuart A. Lipton

DOI: 10.1007/s00018-010-0435-2

Cite this article as:
Cho, D., Nakamura, T. & Lipton, S.A. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2010) 67: 3435. doi:10.1007/s00018-010-0435-2


Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles that continuously undergo two opposite processes, fission and fusion. Mitochondrial dynamics influence not only mitochondrial morphology, but also mitochondrial biogenesis, mitochondrial distribution within the cell, cell bioenergetics, and cell injury or death. Drp1 mediates mitochondrial fission, whereas Mfn1/2 and Opa1 control mitochondrial fusion. Neurons require large amounts of energy to carry out their highly specialized functions. Thus, mitochondrial dysfunction is a prominent feature in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. Mutations of Mfn2 and Opa1 lead to neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2A and autosomal dominant optic atrophy. Moreover, both Aβ peptide and mutant huntingtin protein induce mitochondrial fragmentation and neuronal cell death. In addition, mutants of Parkinson’s disease-related genes also show abnormal mitochondrial morphology. This review highlights our current understanding of abnormal mitochondrial dynamics relevant to neuronal synaptic loss and cell death in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.


Mitochondria dynamicsNeurodegenerative diseasesDrp1Opa1Mitofusin 1/2Cell death



dynamin-related protein 1


optic atrophy protein 1




Alzheimer’s disease


Parkinson’s disease


Huntinton’s disease


Autosomal dominant optic atrophy


Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy type 2A

Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dong-Hyung Cho
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tomohiro Nakamura
    • 1
  • Stuart A. Lipton
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell ResearchSanford-Burnham Medical Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Innovative Cancer Research, Asan Medical CenterUniversity of Ulsan College of MedicineSeoulKorea
  3. 3.Graduate School of East-West Medical ScienceKyung Hee UniversityYonginKorea