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Abstract

A critical role of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage has been hypothesized in both aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Much of the evidence has been correlative, but recent evidence has shown that the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations accelerates normal aging, leads to oxidative damage to nuclear DNA, and impairs gene transcription. Furthermore, overexpression of the antioxidant enzyme catalase in mitochondria increases murine life span. There is strong evidence from genetics and transgenic mouse models that mitochondrial dysfunction results in neurodegeneration and may contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, hereditary spastic paraplegia, and cerebellar degenerations. Therapeutic approaches targeting mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage in these diseases therefore have great promise. Ann Neurol 2005;58:495–505