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Relationship: 908


A descriptive phrase which clearly defines the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream, and which is downstream). More help

N/A, Mitochondrial dysfunction 1 leads to Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway

Upstream event
The causing Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help
Downstream event
The responding Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes.Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Inhibition of the mitochondrial complex I of nigro-striatal neurons leads to parkinsonian motor deficits non-adjacent Moderate Low Andrea Terron (send email) Open for citation & comment WPHA/WNT Endorsed

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER.In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER.  More help

Sex Applicability

An indication of the the relevant sex for this KER. More help

Life Stage Applicability

An indication of the the relevant life stage(s) for this KER.  More help

Key Event Relationship Description

Provides a concise overview of the information given below as well as addressing details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves. More help

Neurons are characterized by the presence of neurites, the formation of action potentials, and the release and re-uptake of neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. The presence of long extensions implies a significant enlargement of total cell surface. In combination with the transmission of action potentials that require a continuous maintenance of active transport processes across the membrane, the steady state energy demand of these neurons is significantly higher compared with non-neuronal cells. Dopaminergic (DA) neurons located in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) that project into the striatum are unique with respect of the total length of their neurites and the number of synapses that are significantly higher compared with other neuronal cell types (Bolam et al., 2012). Besides this complex morphology DA neurons have a distinctive physiological phenotype that could contribute to their vulnerability (Surmeier et al., 2010). Other features such as high energy demand, high calcium flux, dopamine autoxidation process as well as high content of iron and high content of microglia makes these DA neurons at vulnerable population of cells to oxidative stress produced by mitochondrial dysfunction. These architectural features of SNpc DA neurons render this cell type as particularly vulnerable to impairments in energy supply. Mitochondrial dysfunction, either evoked by environmental toxins such as the complex I inhibitor rotenone or MPTP, by oxidative modifications of components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, or by genetic impairments of mitochondrial ATP generation hence have direct influence on the function and integrity of SNpc DA neurons.

Evidence Collection Strategy

Include a description of the approach for identification and assembly of the evidence base for the KER. For evidence identification, include, for example, a description of the sources and dates of information consulted including expert knowledge, databases searched and associated search terms/strings.  Include also a description of study screening criteria and methodology, study quality assessment considerations, the data extraction strategy and links to any repositories/databases of relevant references.Tabular summaries and links to relevant supporting documentation are encouraged, wherever possible. More help

Evidence Supporting this KER

Addresses the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP setting the stage for overall assessment of the AOP. More help
Biological Plausibility
Addresses the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream.  This field can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured.   More help

Mitochondria are organelles essentials for multiple cellular processes, including production of ATP, maintenance of calcium homeostasis, management of ROS production and apoptosis. Mitochondrial dynamics are also critical for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, which involve multiple factors controlling mitophagy (Youle et al. 2012). Deregulation of mitochondrial functions may impact any neuronal population; however, SNpc DA neurons are indeed the most vulnerable population in PD. Multiple factors are related to their vulnerability: These include autonomous activity, broad action potentials, low intrinsic calcium buffering capacity, poorly myelinated long highly branched axons and terminal fields, and use of a catecholamine neurotransmitter, often with the catecholamine-derived neuromelanin pigment (Sulzer et al. 2013; Surmeier et al.2010).

The above mentioned factors imply a significantly higher total cell surface and a high energy requirement in order to maintain the re-distribution of ions across the membrane following an action potential. In addition, SNpc DA neurons are characterized by significantly higher numbers of synapses compared with other neuronal types or with DA neurons of different anatomical localizations (Anden et al., 1966; Kawaguchi et al., 1990; Kita et al., 1994; Bevan et al., 1998; Wu et al., 2000; Tepper et al., 2004). In humans, ca. 10 times higher numbers of synapses compared with rats are expected, making human DA neurons particularly vulnerable (Bolam et al., 2012; Matsuda et al., 2009). These extreme bioenergetics demands pose SNpc DA neurons energetically “on the edge”. Any stressor that might perturb energy production would hence lead to conditions under which the energy demand would exceed energy supply, resulting in cell damage and ultimately to cell death.

The mechanistic link between mitochondrial dysfunction and loss of SNpc DA neurons also comes from evidence of mutated proteins related to mitochondrial function in familial PD, resulting in reduced calcium capacity, increased ROS production, increase in mitochondrial membrane permeabilization and increase in cell vulnerability (Koopman et al. 2012; Gandhi et al. 2009). In addition, excessive ROS production can damage mitochondrial DNA and activate the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis (Tait et al. 2010). Additional sources of oxidative stress come from the autoxidation of dopamine and the active generation of ROS by activated glia cells; furthermore, the mitochondrial respiratory chain itself represents a source of constant superoxide formation, even under normal conditions (Moosmann et al., 2002).

Imbalance of mitochondrial dynamics have been also reported in a wide range of experimental models of PD and inhibition of the mitochondrial fission proteins (i.e. Drp1) promote mitochondrial fusion and fission and enhanced the release of dopamine from the nigrostriatal terminals (Tieu et al. 2014).

Additional link between mitochondrial dysfunction and the degeneration of DA neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway comes from studies indicating a reduced activity of mitochondrial complex I in human idiopathic PD cases in the substantia nigra (Keeney et al., 2006; Parker et al., 1989, 2008; Swerdlow et al., 1996). The impairment in complex I activity was directly correlated with an elevated sensitivity of SNpc DA neurons and their demise. Transfer of mitochondria from human platelets collected from idiopathic PD subjects into fibroblasts or neuronal cells resulted in elevated levels of basal oxidative stress, a declined supply with ATP, and an elevated vulnerability towards exogenous stressors such as the complex I inhibitors rotenone or the redox cycler paraquat (Swerdlow et al., 1996; Gu et al., 1998). Systemic application of complex I inhibitors such as rotenone or MPTP lead to a preferential loss of nigrostriatal DA neurons, while other brain areas or peripheral cells are not affected to the same degree (Langston et al., 1983).

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
Addresses inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship including the identification of experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. More help

- Several in vitro studies applying rotenone to evoke mitochondrial dysfunction came to the conclusion that rotenone-dependent ROS formation, and not the rotenone-evoked drop in ATP is the primary cause for cell degeneration. These observations are largely based on experimental systems employing the rotenone insensitive NADH dehydrogenase NDI 1. Expression of NDI 1 protected rotenone exposed cells from degeneration. The presence of NDI 1 however results in a substitution of ATP. Endogenously expressed complex I is still present in these models and it can be assumed that rotenone exposure would still lead to a complex I-dependent formation of ROS that precludes the modeling of a precise cause-consequence relationship between either ATP depletion or elevated ROS levels with the demise of DA neurons.

- Several studies indicate a dominant role of ROS in the degeneration of DA neurons, based on models in which rotenone/MPP+ mediated mitochondrial dysfunction and cell degeneration was protected by the presence of exogenously added antioxidants. Maintenance of the endogenous redox potential however is a highly ATP-dependent process. Clear-cut separations between the respective contribution of ROS or the role of an inhibited mitochondrial ATP synthesis on the degeneration of DA neurons is hence difficult to postulate.

- Studies with chronic partial GSH depletions indicated that an experimental reduction of GSH/GSSG by ca. 50 % has no influence on cell viability. Reports involving rotenone and MPP+ however regularly observe degeneration of DA neurons under conditions of GSH depletion around 50 %. These observations indicate a more prominent role of the intracellular drop of ATP evoked by the complex I inhibitors in the process of cell degeneration.

- Studies in which oxidative stress is generated e.g. by the application of DA or 6-OHDA not only observed a challenge of the cellular redox potential, but also reversible and irreversible inhibitory mechanisms of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes (nitration, S-nitrosation) that are accompanied by an inhibition of the respiratory chain in the absence of pharmacological complex I inhibitors. These observations illustrate the close mutual interaction between oxidative stress and the inhibition of mitochondrial respiration and point to a profound role of direct mitochondrial inhibition also under oxidative stress conditions.

- Mitochondrial dysfunction is generally associated with conditions of oxidative stress. Dysfunctional mitochondria can act as potent source of superoxide. Oxidative stress associated with PD however not only originates from mitochondrial ROS, but also from DA autoxidation and the Fenton reaction, as well as from inflammatory activated adjacent glia. Interpretations on the role of oxidative stress in DA neurons and its role in DA neurodegeneration is hence hampered by the fact that the respective origin of the reactive oxygen species formed (mitochondria, DA autoxidation, inflammation of glia cells) is rather difficult to identify and often shows overlappings (Murphy et al., 2009; Starkov et al., 2008, Cebrian et al., 2015).

- In PD patients, a reduction in complex I activity in the SNpc, but also in peripheral tissue and cells such as platelets, was reported. Studies with isolated mitochondria indicated that for efficient inhibition of mitochondrial ATP formation, an inhibition of complex I by ca. 70 % is necessary (Davey et al., 1996). Reports on the reduction of complex I activity in PD patients however repeatedly indicated an inhibition of only 25-30 % (Schapira et al., 1989; Schapira et al., 1990; Janetzky et al., 1994).

- Data available on the respective inhibition of the components of the respiratory chain are highly dependent on the experimental setup used. Analysis of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex activities in mitochondrial homogenates provide results different from data obtained with intact, isolated mitochondria. These aspects need to be considered in the interpretation of such data (Mann et al., 1992; Parker et al., 2008; Mizuno et al., 1989; Schapira et al., 1990; Cardellach et al., 1993)

Known modulating factors

This table captures specific information on the MF, its properties, how it affects the KER and respective references.1.) What is the modulating factor? Name the factor for which solid evidence exists that it influences this KER. Examples: age, sex, genotype, diet 2.) Details of this modulating factor. Specify which features of this MF are relevant for this KER. Examples: a specific age range or a specific biological age (defined by...); a specific gene mutation or variant, a specific nutrient (deficit or surplus); a sex-specific homone; a certain threshold value (e.g. serum levels of a chemical above...) 3.) Description of how this modulating factor affects this KER. Describe the provable modification of the KER (also quantitatively, if known). Examples: increase or decrease of the magnitude of effect (by a factor of...); change of the time-course of the effect (onset delay by...); alteration of the probability of the effect; increase or decrease of the sensitivity of the downstream effect (by a factor of...) 4.) Provision of supporting scientific evidence for an effect of this MF on this KER. Give a list of references.  More help
Response-response Relationship
Provides sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs.  More help
Information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). More help
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits. More help

Domain of Applicability

A free-text section of the KER description that the developers can use to explain their rationale for the taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability structured terms. More help

There are no sex or age restiction for the applicability of this KEr and mitochondrial are essential for most of eukariotyc cells. Rotenone and MPTp have been tested successfully in primates and mice. The mouse C57BL/6 strain is the most frequently used strain in the reported experiments. A difference in vulnerability was observed, particularly for rats, depending on the strain and route of administration. The Lewis strain gives more consistency in terms of sensitivity when compared to the Sprague Dawley. In addition to rodents, the pesticide rotenone has been also studied in Caenorhabditis elegans (C.elegans), Drosophila, zebrafish and Lymnaea Stagnalis (L.stagnalis) (Johnson et al., 2015), indicating that the system is preseved across species.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description. More help

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Bolam JP, Pissadaki EK (2012) Living on the edge with too many mouths to feed: why dopamine neurons die. Mov Disord. 27(12):1478-83. Cardellach F, Martí MJ, Fernández-Solá J, Marín C, Hoek JB, Tolosa E, Urbano-Márquez A. (1993) Mitochondrial respiratory chain activity in skeletal muscle from patients with Parkinson's disease. Neurology. 43(11):2258-62.

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Choi BS, Kim H, Lee HJ, Sapkota K, Park SE, Kim S, Kim SJ (2014) Celastrol from 'Thunder God Vine' protects SH-SY5Y cells through the preservation of mitochondrial function and inhibition of p38 MAPK in a rotenone model of Parkinson's disease. Neurochem Res. 39(1):84-96.

Davey GP, Clark JB. (1996) Threshold effects and control of oxidative phosphorylation in nonsynaptic rat brain mitochondria. J Neurochem. 66(4):1617-24.

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