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Mitochondrial Dysfunction: At the Core of Psychiatric Disorders?

      In “The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life” (
      • Lane N.
      The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life.
      ), Nick Lane, an evolutionary biologist, describes the evidence for how life became what it is. He argues that all life forms evolved to generate energy using a difference in proton concentrations across a membrane (proton flux), which is used to add a phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate to then form adenosine triphosphate. Our mitochondria use this proton flux to convert what we eat and breathe into adenosine triphosphate in a complex dance of redox reactions and buffers against oxidative stress. To carry out these energy-forming chemical reactions, mitochondria evolved remarkably elegant structures and substructures. In addition, we constantly make new mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis) and destroy defective mitochondria (mitophagy), as well as shuttle mitochondria to places where we need to deliver energy. Proper mitochondrial function is essential to produce energy for vital functions including muscle contraction and neurotransmitter release (
      • Manji H.
      • Kato T.
      • Di Prospero N.A.
      • Ness S.
      • Beal M.F.
      • Krams M.
      • et al.
      Impaired mitochondrial function in psychiatric disorders.
      ), as well as neurogenesis, dendritogenesis, synaptogenesis, and glial functions.
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