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What New Research Says about Mitochondrial Function and Movement Disorders – An Update

Submitted by on April 16, 2017 – 10:30 AM

mitochondrion-565f84f35f9b583386a3f9a1Mitochondria are organelles present in all the cells in our body except red blood cells. These mitochondria are the units of the cell that are responsible for creating 90 percent of the energy we need to sustain life, grow, and to support organ function.


When the mitochondria malfunction, less energy is produced. This often results in the injury or death at the cellular level. This destruction can occur in all our major organs and systems. It is especially critical in parts of the body that require the greatest energy expenditure including the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nervous, and pulmonary systems. It is therefore important to improve mitochondrial performance through diet, mitochondria specific and targeted supplements, lifestyle changes, and through healthcare if required.


What are Mitochondrial Diseases? Mitochondrial diseases (MID) are difficult to diagnose because each person reacts differently. Mitochondrial disease symptoms include but are in no way limited to:

  • seizures
  • strokes
  • developmental delays
  • inability to walk
  • inability to talk
  • blindness
  • failure to digest food


The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation notes the distraction of cells due to mitochondrial malfunction is a recognized component of many of today’s most life-threatening and debilitating diseases, including cancer, heart disease, AIDS, kidney failure, and diabetes.


Mitochondrial Function Research on Movement Disorders

Movement disorders are quite common in patients suffering from MIDs. Symptoms vary from mild tremor to severe sporadic involuntary movements. Patients suffering from a wide variation of symptoms may be suffering from MIDs and should seek out a possible diagnosis.


Genetic mutations that are associated with MID development occur in genes or parts of the DNA that are inherited from the mother. However, it has never been clear why some cells and tissue are more impacted than others. In the study “Movement disorders in mitochondrial diseases,” published in Revue Neurologie authors review some movement disorders that are often discovered in people suffering from mitochondrial diseases to see if they could find out why the disease targets particular types of tissue.


Since the nervous system and muscles tissues require high levels of energy to function, and the mitochondria and ATP are responsible for producing that energy, they looked at diseases of neuromuscular origin to study.


The study primarily focused in on four movement disorders:

  • Cerebellar ataxia: inability to walk, coordinate movement, and control eye movements.
  • Myoclonus: characterized by sudden, involuntary movement of muscles and jerking.
  • Dystonia: inability to control muscle contraction.
  • Parkinsonism: symptoms like tremor, movement disorder, impaired speech, and muscle stiffness.


The study did uncover a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and these movement disorders. This indicates that people receiving a diagnosis of any of these diseases should be considered for diagnosis and treatment of MID.



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