Mitochondrial function in brain tissue in primary degenerative dementia

N. R. Sims, J. M. Finegan, J. P. Blass, D. M. Bowen, D. Neary

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154 Citations (Scopus)


Previous in vitro and in vivo studies of the brain in Alzheimer's disease indicated alterations in metabolism related to energy production although the relationships between these changes remains obscure. To help resolve this issue, in vitro oxygen uptake by homogenates of fresh samples of frontal neocortex from patients with dementia and neurosurgical controls has been examined as a measure of energy-related metabolism and mitochondrial function. Maximal respiratory rates (measured in the presence of an uncoupling agent) were similar for samples from 7 controls, 5 patients with Alzheimer's disease and two patients diagnosed clinically as Pick's disease, suggesting that there was little or no effect of these dementias on the maximal metabolic capacity of the tissue. However, under some conditions producing sub-maximal metabolic activity (which are of potentially greater physiological relevance) oxygen uptake rates were significantly elevated in the dementia group. The ratio of oxygen uptake rates in the presence and absence of ADP was significantly reduced (to 58% of control; P < 0.02) for the dementia patients compared with controls, possibly indicative of partial mitochondrial uncoupling. These results indicate metabolic changes expressed in vitro which may be relevant to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease and some related dementias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Mitochondrion
  • Pick's disease


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