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Mitochondria In Neurodegeneration: Bioenergetic Function In Cell Life And Death

Anne N. Murphy, Gary Fiskum, M. Flint Beal

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The biochemical pathways to cell death in chronic and acute forms of neurodegeneration are poorly understood, limiting the ability to develop effective therapeutic approaches. As details of the apoptotic and necrotic pathways have been revealed, an appreciation for the decisive role that mitochondria play in life-death decisions for the cell has grown. As a result, the need has arisen to reevaluate the significance to cell viability of mitochondrial Ca2+ sequestration, reactive oxygen species generation, and the membrane permeability transition. This review provides basic information on these mitochondrial functions as they relate to control over cell death.