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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2011, Article ID 979231, 7 pages
Review Article

Genetic Mutations and Mitochondrial Toxins Shed New Light on the Pathogenesis of Parkinson's Disease

Department of Neurology, Juntendo University School of Medicine, Tokyo 113-8421, Japan

Received 11 April 2011; Revised 2 June 2011; Accepted 12 June 2011

Academic Editor: Honglei Chen

Copyright © 2011 Shigeto Sato and Nobutaka Hattori. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The cellular abnormalities in Parkinson's disease (PD) include mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage, which are probably induced by both genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Mitochondrial dysfunction has long been implicated in the pathogenesis of PD. The recent discovery of genes associated with the etiology of familial PD has emphasized the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in PD. The discovery and increasing knowledge of the function of PINK1 and parkin, which are associated with the mitochondria, have also enhanced the understanding of cellular functions. The PINK1-parkin pathway is associated with quality control of the mitochondria, as determined in cultured cells treated with the mitochondrial uncoupler carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), which causes mitochondrial depolarization. To date, the use of mitochondrial toxins, for example, 1-methyl-4-phynyl-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and CCCP, has contributed to our understanding of PD. We review how these toxins and familial PD gene products are associated with and have enhanced our understanding of the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in PD.