Mitochondrial iron-sulfur cluster dysfunction in neurodegenerative disease

Grazia Isaya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Growing evidence supports a role for mitochondrial iron metabolism in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders such as Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) and Parkinson disease (PD) as well as in the motor and cognitive decline associated with the aging process. Iron-sulfur enzyme deficits and regional iron accumulation have been observed in each of these conditions. In spite of significant etiological, clinical and pathological differences that exist between FRDA and PD, it is possible that defects in mitochondrial iron-sulfur clusters (ISCs) biogenesis represent a common underlying mechanism leading to abnormal intracellular iron distribution with mitochondrial iron accumulation, oxidative phosphorylation deficits and oxidative stress in susceptible cells and specific regions of the nervous system. Moreover, a similar mechanism may contribute to the age-dependent iron accumulation that occurs in certain brain regions such as the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra. Targeting chelatable iron and reactive oxygen species appear as possible therapeutic options for FRDA and PD, and possibly other age-related neurodegenerative conditions. However, new technology to interrogate ISC synthesis in humans is needed to (i) assess how defects in this pathway contribute to the natural history of neurodegenerative disorders and (ii) develop treatments to correct those defects early in the disease process, before they cause irreversible neuronal cell damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 29
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Volume5 MAR
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Friedreich ataxia
  • Iron-chelators
  • Iron-sulfur clusters
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative damage
  • Parkinson disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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