Peripheral mitochondrial function correlates with clinical severity in idiopathic Parkinson's disease

Chiara Milanese, César Payán-Gómez, Marta Galvani, Nicolás Molano González, Maria Tresini, Soraya Nait Abdellah, Willeke M.C. van Roon-Mom, Silvia Figini, Johan Marinus, Jacobus J. van Hilten, Pier G. Mastroberardino

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Parkinson’s disease is an intractable disorder with heterogeneous clinical presentation that may reflect different underlying pathogenic mechanisms. Surrogate indicators of pathogenic processes correlating with clinical measures may assist in better patient stratification. Mitochondrial function, which is impaired in and central to PD pathogenesis, may represent one such surrogate indicator. Methods: Mitochondrial function was assessed by respirometry experiment in fibroblasts derived from idiopathic patients (n = 47) in normal conditions and in experimental settings that do not permit glycolysis and therefore force energy production through mitochondrial function. Respiratory parameters and clinical measures were correlated with bivariate analysis. Machine-learning-based classification and regression trees were used to classify patients on the basis of biochemical and clinical measures. The effects of mitochondrial respiration on α-synuclein stress were assessed monitoring the protein phosphorylation in permitting versus restrictive glycolysis conditions. Results: Bioenergetic properties in peripheral fibroblasts correlate with clinical measures in idiopathic patients, and the correlation is stronger with predominantly nondopaminergic signs. Bioenergetic analysis under metabolic stress, in which energy is produced solely by mitochondria, shows that patients’ fibroblasts can augment respiration, therefore indicating that mitochondrial defects are reversible. Forcing energy production through mitochondria, however, favors α-synuclein stress in different cellular experimental systems. Machine-learning-based classification identified different groups of patients in which increasing disease severity parallels higher mitochondrial respiration. Conclusion: The suppression of mitochondrial activity in PD may be an adaptive strategy to cope with concomitant pathogenic factors. Moreover, mitochondrial measures in fibroblasts are potential peripheral biomarkers to follow disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1192-1202
Number of pages11
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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