Lack of apoptosis in mitochondrial encephalomyopathies

M. Sciacco, G. Fagiolari, C. Lamperti, S. Messina, P. Bazzi, L. Napoli, L. Chiveri, A. Prelle, G. P. Comi, N. Bresolin, G. Scarlato, M. Moggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Objective: Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is an evolutionary conserved mechanism essential for morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis, but it plays an important role also in pathologic conditions, including neurologic disorders. Its execution pathway is critically regulated at the mitochondrial level. Evidence of apoptosis in muscle specimens was investigated in patients with genetically defined mitochondrial encephalomyopathies. Methods: Thirty-three muscle biopsies from patients with genotypically different mitochondrial diseases (single and multiple deletions, A3243G/A8344G point mutations of the mitochondrial DNA) were studied. The terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) reaction was used as a marker of nuclear DNA fragmentation, as well as antibodies against pro- (Fas) or anti- (Bcl-2) apoptotic factors. Also, because one hallmark of apoptosis is morphologic, ultrastructural studies were performed on skeletal muscle from 18 of 33 patients, examining both phenotypically normal and ragged red fibers. Results: In all muscle biopsies, no significant expression of either pro (Fas) and inhibiting (Bcl-2) apoptosis-related proteins was found, nor TUNEL positivity. This latter finding is confirmed by lack of morphologic evidence of apoptosis in all the fibers examined at the ultrastructural level. Conclusion: The authors' findings suggest that genetically determined defects of oxidative phosphorylation do not induce the apoptotic process and that apoptosis is not involved in the pathogenesis of mitochondrial disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070-1074
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 24 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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