Fragmented mitochondria released from microglia trigger neurodegeneration

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Extracellular mitochondria and their impact on neurons

Mitochondria are frequently exchanged between cells and must change their shape accordingly to suit their environment. "Most scientists believe that mitochondria outside cells must have come from dead or dying cells," said Mochly-Rosen, who has just published an article in Nature Neuroscience. "But we found a lot of highly effective mitochondria in the culture broth, as well as some that were damaged, and the glial cells that release them seem very alive."

As recently discovered, even healthy cells regularly release mitochondria into their immediate environment.

An enzyme that destroys mitochondria

An enzyme called Drp1 that facilitates mitochondrial fission can become overactive because aggregates of neurotoxic proteins such as those associated with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

A fragment of protein that specifically blocks mitochondrial fission

About seven years ago, the Mochly-Rosen team designed a protein fragment, called the P110 peptide, that specifically blocks Drp1-induced mitochondrial fission when it occurs at an excessive rate, as it is the case when a cell is damaged.

Mitochondria and immune system

The relationship between mitochondria and eukaryotes has been critical to the success of metazoan life on Earth. Cellular colonization by ancestral α-proteobacteria more than a billion years ago provides benefits in terms of energy production and oxygen utilization. However, host cells needed to recognize and protect their increasingly essential endosymbioli while simultaneously identifying and repelling phylogenetically related pathogenic bacterial invaders. As a result, mitochondria have become immunologically preferred.

Nevertheless, misidentification of extracellular mitochondrial DNA, damaged mitochondria, or other damage-related molecular structures (DAMP) as a bacterium can trigger innate (sterile) immune mechanisms that in turn contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. the spread of pathology in acute and chronic inflammatory diseases.

Loss of the immune privileged state is correlated with mitochondria damaged by microglia

Their results showed that the loss of the immune privileged state of extracellular mitochondria was correlated with an increased release of mitochondria damaged by microglia, and that the extracellular mitochondria damaged directly contributed to the spread of the disease by acting as the innate immune response by targeting adjacent astrocytes. and neurons.

An increase in Drp1 - Fis1 - mediated mitochondrial fission in activated microglia triggers the formation of fragmented and damaged mitochondria that are released from these cells, thereby inducing an innate immune response.

Fragmented mitochondria are biomarkers of neurodegeneration

Clinical and experimental studies have identified fragmented mitochondria in the biofluids of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage and stroke patients, suggesting that their presence in the extracellular space is a biomarker of neurodegeneration and neurodegeneration. the severity of the disease. Their data showed a causal role of dysfunctional extracellular mitochondria in the propagation of neurodegenerative signals from microglia. Innate immune responses in neurodegenerative diseases begin early in the pathogenesis of these diseases and are associated with minimal, if any, infiltration of immune cells derived from blood in the brain. Resident brain cells, microglia and astrocytes, trigger this sterile immune response, contributing to neuronal dysfunction and degeneration.

P110 peptide reduces the release of damaged mitochondria from microglia

The authors have previously reported that neurons harbor neurotoxic proteins. Their data showed that the Drp1-Fis1 inhibitory peptide P110 reduces mitochondrial fission and subsequent release of damaged mitochondria from microglia, thereby inhibiting astrocyte activation and protecting neurons from innate immune attacks.

A vicious circle leads to neurodegeneration

Their data suggest instead that a relay of glie-neuron-to-glia signaling plays an important role in neurodegeneration. By fueling the vicious circle, neurotoxic protein-induced neuronal death generates additional cellular debris and debris (DAMP), as well as dysfunctional mitochondria released by microglia expressing neurotoxic proteins, exacerbate astrocyte activation. and chronic pathogenic inflammation.

Thus, neuronal cell death and the final phenotype of the disease occur via the activation of the innate immune response as well as via the direct effects of neurotoxic protein-induced cell death.

Activation of the innate immune response and neuronal protein-induced neuronal cell death in neurodegenerative disease models are both dependent on excessive Drp1-Fis1-induced mitochondrial fragmentation.

The minimal amount of damaged mitochondria required for the propagation of neuronal cell death is also unknown, and the transfer of functional mitochondria between microglia and astrocytes and between glia and neurons plays a role in physiological conditions. However, researchers know that extracellular mitochondria are essential for mediating this pathological pathology from cell to cell.

The ratio of damaged mitochondria to functional mitochondria in the extracellular medium determines the fate of neurons. Although damaged extracellular mitochondria are deleterious, functional mitochondrial transfer is protective, as previously demonstrated, for example in a murine model of acute lung injury and in a stroke model. The question of whether extracellular mitochondria damaged enter the neurons, as suggested for functional mitochondria in a previous study, has not yet been determined.

It is not the amount of extracellular mitochondria but rather the ratio of damaged mitochondria to functional mitochondria in the extracellular environment that governs the outcome of neurons and is determined by the extent of pathological fission in the microglia donor.

A slow path to developing a drug

Their data suggest that selective inhibition of pathological mitochondrial fission in microglia (mediated by Drp1 - Fis1) without affecting mitochondrial physiologic fission reduces the propagation of neuronal injury by two mechanisms

First, P110 reduced activation of the innate immune response in microglia and astrocytes and cytokine-induced neuronal cell death induced by extracellular and dysfunctional mitochondria.

Second, the inhibition of pathological mitochondrial fission by P110 in donor microglia contributed to neuronal cell survival by increasing the ratio of healthy mitochondria to damaged ones released by donor cells, thereby protecting neurons.

Suppression of DrP1 - Fis1 mediated mitochondrial fission is an easily translatable approach to interrupting this pathogenic microglia-to-astrocyte-to-neuron mitochondrial pathology, and promoting the transfer of healthy mitochondria to neurons.

However, they consider that any means of normalizing the balance between healthy and damaged mitochondria within the neuronal environment, for example by removing damaged and fragmented mitochondria with specific antibodies or by introducing healthy mitochondria, could also provide neuronal protection in neurodegenerative diseases.

Article from Nature Neuroscience: Fragmented mitochondria released from microglia trigger A1 astrocytic response and propagate inflammatory neurodegeneration

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