Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mitochondrial problems

In my A&P course, we spend a lot of time on cell biology before "jumping in" to the systems.

That's because they're often a bit weak in this area coming in—and even more often don't have up-to-date information.

Although this provides a firm foundation for nearly everything that follows in the course, my students often wonder . . . do we really need to know all this stuff?

It's sure hard to see why knowing about all the ins and outs of mitochondria, for example, are important to understanding people.

A recent feature article in Science News does a great job of bringing home why its important to know this. The article talks about the mitochondrial aging theory and new information linking mitochondrial dysfunction to disease and aging.

[NOTE: The mitochondrial theory of aging is discussed, and illustrated, in Chapter 33 of my textbook Anatomy & Physiology]

Some key facts revealed in the article include:

  • scientists think that millions of us may suffer from mitochondrial problems

  • mitochondrial dysfunction may be a mechanism of Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and more

  • mitochondrial mechanisms are now thought to be so central to understanding disease processes, the NIH is now encouraging additional mitochondrial research

  • the reason low-calorie diets may prolong life is because it keeps the mitochrondria from producing an excess of free radicals that contribute to aging

  • physical and mental activity produce similar anti-aging effects

  • researchers are investigating treatments that take advantage of knowledge of mitochondrial function

This is a great article to give students to chew on. Or to simply point to as a good reason why it's important to know about mitochondria . . .and other cellular structures and mechanisms.

Here's the article, along with some additional resources on the topic . . .

Mitochondria Gone Bad
by Laura Bell
Science News 28 February 2009, Vol.175 #5 (p.20)
[Great feature article available FREE online. Includes nice artwork.]

Mitochondria as Chi
Douglas C. Wallace
. Vol. 179, 727-735. June 2008.
[Extensive FREE full-text article with an interest twist: a link to ancient Asian medicine. Includes FREE PowerPoint slide you can use in your course.]

Mitochondrial Medicine for Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases
P. Hemachandra Reddy
Neuromolecular Medicine, 2008. DOI 10.1007/s12017-008-8044-z
[FREE abstract and preview.]

Mitochondrial biology and oxidative stress in Parkinson disease pathogenesis
Henchcliffe, C., and M.F. Beal.
Nature Clinical Practice
2008. 4(November):600-609. doi:10.1038/ncpneuro0924
[Connect mitochondrial dysfunction to PD. Several FREE PowerPoint slides you can use in your course.]

Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease
Neustadt, J., and S.R. Pieczenik
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2008. 52:780–788. DOI 10.1002/mnfr.200700075
[FREE abstract of research report.]

The mitochondrial theory of aging and its relationship to reactive oxygen species damage and somatic mtDNA mutations
Loeb, L. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciense U S A. 2005 December 27; 102(52): 18769–18770.
[Article summarizes the mitochondrial theory of aging. Includes FREE image.]

Here's a video on mitochondrial disease:

[The video player embedded here may not appear in your news feed or emailed newsletter. Go to The A&P Professor blog to access the video viewer. Go to The A&P Professor website to learn how to embed the video in your PowerPoint or webpage . . . or simply link to it from your own email or webpage.]

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