Mitochondrial protein nitration primes neurodegeneration in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Xiaoping Qi, Alfred S. Lewin, Liang Sun, William W. Hauswirth, John Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of axonal and neuronal degeneration causing visual and neurologic disability in multiple sclerosis are poorly understood. Here we explored the contribution of mitochondria to neurodegeneration in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis animal model of multiple sclerosis. Oxidative injury to the murine mitochondrion preceded the infiltration of inflammatory cells, classically heralded as the mediators of demyelination and axonal injury by transection. Nitration of mitochondrial proteins affected key subunits of complexes I and IV of the respiratory chain and a chaperone critical to the stabilization and translocation of proteins into the organelle. Oxidative products were associated with loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and apoptotic cell death. Reductions in the rate of synthesis of adenosine triphosphate were severe and even greater than those associated with disorders caused by mutated mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial vacuolization, swelling, and dissolution of cristae occurred in axons as early as 3 days after sensitization for experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Our findings implicate mitochondrial dysfunction induced by protein inactivation and mediated by oxidative stress initiates a cascade of molecular events leading to apoptosis and neurodegeneration in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis that is not mediated by inflammatory cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31950-31962
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 20 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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