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1.  Clonal Expansion of Mitochondrial DNA Deletions in Multiple Sclerosis 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;124(2):209-220.
Mitochondrial DNA deletions (Δ-mtDNA) are implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and ageing. Given the diffuse nature of inflammation in MS, aim of this study was to determine whether Δ-mtDNA caused respiratory deficient cells in excess of age within choroid plexus (CP) and ongoing mutagenesis or clonal expansion accounted for the respiratory deficiency in MS.
Respiratory chain complex IV and complex II activity was determined sequentially using histochemistry. Δ-mtDNA were characterized using real time PCR, long range PCR, sequencing and single molecule PCR. Sources of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) were explored using immunohistochemistry.
Respiratory deficient cells (lacking complex IV and with intact complex II activity) within CP epithelium were in excess of age in MS, PD and AD. Subunit-I of complex IV was lacking to a greater extent in MS than controls. Percentage of respiratory deficient cells harboring >50% heteroplasmy level of Δ-mtDNA was significantly greater in MS than PD, AD and controls. Long range PCR and sequencing confirmed Δ-mtDNA. Single molecule PCR identified clonally expanded Δ-mtDNA in MS, despite an increase in sources of RONS.
Our findings establish clonal expansion of Δ-mtDNA causing respiratory deficiency in MS and the extraparenchymal intracranial location indicated the potential to involve multiple cell types. Understanding factors that influence clonal expansion of Δ-mtDNA, a molecular link between inflammation and delayed cellular energy failure, may identify potential therapeutic targets for progressive forms of MS as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3674417  PMID: 22688405
2.  Loss of Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein in Kearns-Sayre Syndrome 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(4):490-499.
To explore myelin components and mitochondrial changes within the central nervous system in patients with well-characterized mitochondrial disorders due to nuclear DNA or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations.
Immunohistochemical analysis, histochemical analysis, mtDNA sequencing, and real-time and long-range polymerase chain reaction were used to determine the pathogenicity of mtDNA deletions.
Department of Clinical Pathology, Columbia University Medical Center, and Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource.
Seventeen patients with mitochondrial disorders and 7 controls were studied from August 1, 2009, to August 1, 2010.
Main Outcome Measure
Regions of myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) loss.
Myelin-associated glycoprotein loss in Kearns-Sayre syndrome was associated with oligodendrocyte loss and nuclear translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor, whereas inflammation, neuronal loss, and axonal injury were minimal. In a Kearns-Sayre syndrome MAG loss region, high levels of mtDNA deletions together with cytochrome- c oxidase–deficient cells and loss of mitochondrial respiratory chain subunits (more prominent in the white than gray matter and glia than axons) confirmed the pathogenicity of mtDNA deletions.
Primary mitochondrial respiratory chain defects affecting the white matter, and unrelated to inflammation, are associated with MAG loss and central nervous system demyelination.
PMCID: PMC3672633  PMID: 22491194
3.  Increased mitochondrial content in remyelinated axons: implications for multiple sclerosis 
Brain  2011;134(7):1901-1913.
Mitochondrial content within axons increases following demyelination in the central nervous system, presumably as a response to the changes in energy needs of axons imposed by redistribution of sodium channels. Myelin sheaths can be restored in demyelinated axons and remyelination in some multiple sclerosis lesions is extensive, while in others it is incomplete or absent. The effects of remyelination on axonal mitochondrial content in multiple sclerosis, particularly whether remyelination completely reverses the mitochondrial changes that follow demyelination, are currently unknown. In this study, we analysed axonal mitochondria within demyelinated, remyelinated and myelinated axons in post-mortem tissue from patients with multiple sclerosis and controls, as well as in experimental models of demyelination and remyelination, in vivo and in vitro. Immunofluorescent labelling of mitochondria (porin, a voltage-dependent anion channel expressed on all mitochondria) and axons (neurofilament), and ultrastructural imaging showed that in both multiple sclerosis and experimental demyelination, mitochondrial content within remyelinated axons was significantly less than in acutely and chronically demyelinated axons but more numerous than in myelinated axons. The greater mitochondrial content within remyelinated, compared with myelinated, axons was due to an increase in density of porin elements whereas increase in size accounted for the change observed in demyelinated axons. The increase in mitochondrial content in remyelinated axons was associated with an increase in mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV activity. In vitro studies showed a significant increase in the number of stationary mitochondria in remyelinated compared with myelinated and demyelinated axons. The number of mobile mitochondria in remyelinated axons did not significantly differ from myelinated axons, although significantly greater than in demyelinated axons. Our neuropathological data and findings in experimental demyelination and remyelination in vivo and in vitro are consistent with a partial amelioration of the supposed increase in energy demand of demyelinated axons by remyelination.
PMCID: PMC3122369  PMID: 21705418
multiple sclerosis; axon; demyelination; mitochondria; remyelination
4.  Mitochondria as Crucial Players in Demyelinated Axons: Lessons from Neuropathology and Experimental Demyelination 
Autoimmune Diseases  2011;2011:262847.
Mitochondria are the most efficient producers of energy in the form of ATP. Energy demands of axons, placed at relatively great distances from the neuronal cell body, are met by mitochondria, which when functionally compromised, produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) in excess. Axons are made metabolically efficient by myelination, which enables saltatory conduction. The importance of mitochondria for maintaining the structural integrity of myelinated axons is illustrated by neuroaxonal degeneration in primary mitochondrial disorders. When demyelinated, the compartmentalisation of ion channels along axons is disrupted. The redistribution of electrogenic machinery is thought to increase the energy demand of demyelinated axons. We review related studies that focus on mitochondria within unmyelinated, demyelinated and dysmyelinated axons in the central nervous system. Based on neuropathological observations we propose the increase in mitochondrial presence within demyelinated axons as an adaptive process to the increased energy need. An increased presence of mitochondria would also increase the capacity to produce deleterious agents such as ROS when functionally compromised. Given the lack of direct evidence of a beneficial or harmful effect of mitochondrial changes, the precise role of increased mitochondrial presence within axons due to demyelination needs to be further explored in experimental demyelination in-vivo and in-vitro.
PMCID: PMC3038418  PMID: 21331147
5.  Mitochondrial DNA deletions and neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis 
Annals of Neurology  2011;69(3):481-492.
Objective Cerebral atrophy is a correlate of clinical progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). Mitochondria are now established to play a part in the pathogenesis of MS. Uniquely, mitochondria harbor their own mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), essential for maintaining a healthy central nervous system. We explored mitochondrial respiratory chain activity and mtDNA deletions in single neurons from secondary progressive MS (SPMS) cases.
Methods Ninety-eight snap-frozen brain blocks from 13 SPMS cases together with complex IV/complex II histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, laser dissection microscopy, long-range and real-time PCR and sequencing were used to identify and analyze respiratory-deficient neurons devoid of complex IV and with complex II activity.
Results The density of respiratory-deficient neurons in SPMS was strikingly in excess of aged controls. The majority of respiratory-deficient neurons were located in layer VI and immediate subcortical white matter (WM) irrespective of lesions. Multiple deletions of mtDNA were apparent throughout the gray matter (GM) in MS. The respiratory-deficient neurons harbored high levels of clonally expanded mtDNA deletions at a single-cell level. Furthermore, there were neurons lacking mtDNA-encoded catalytic subunits of complex IV. mtDNA deletions sufficiently explained the biochemical defect in the majority of respiratory-deficient neurons.
Interpretation These findings provide evidence that neurons in MS are respiratory-deficient due to mtDNA deletions, which are extensive in GM and may be induced by inflammation. We propose induced multiple deletions of mtDNA as an important contributor to neurodegeneration in MS.
PMCID: PMC3580047  PMID: 21446022

Results 1-5 (5)