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Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Its Relationship with mTOR Signaling and Oxidative Damage in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Mitochondria are organelles that play a central role in processes related to cellular viability, such as energy production, cell growth, cell death via apoptosis, and metabolism of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We can observe behavioral abnormalities relevant to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and their recovery mediated by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin in mouse models. In Tsc2+/- mice, the transcription of multiple genes involved in mTOR signaling is enhanced, suggesting a crucial role of dysregulated mTOR signaling in the ASD model. This review proposes that the mTOR inhibitor may be useful for the pharmacological treatment of ASD. This review offers novel insights into mitochondrial dysfunction and the related impaired glutathione synthesis and lower detoxification capacity. Firstly, children with ASD and concomitant mitochondrial dysfunction have been reported to manifest clinical symptoms similar to those of mitochondrial disorders, and it therefore shows that the clinical manifestations of ASD with a concomitant diagnosis of mitochondrial dysfunction are likely due to these mitochondrial disorders. Secondly, the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production/oxygen consumption pathway may be a potential candidate for preventing mitochondrial dysfunction due to oxidative stress, and disruption of ATP synthesis alone may be related to impaired glutathione synthesis. Finally, a decrease in total antioxidant capacity may account for ASD children who show core social and behavioral impairments without neurological and somatic symptoms.
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Keywords: Adenosine triphosphate; autism spectrum disorders; impaired glutathione synthesis; mTOR signaling; mitochondrial dysfunction; oxidative stress; rapamycin; tuberous sclerosis complex

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2015

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  • The aim of Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry is to publish short reviews on the important recent developments in medicinal chemistry and allied disciplines.

    The scope of Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry will cover all areas of medicinal chemistry including developments in rational drug design, synthetic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, high-throughput screening, combinatorial chemistry, drug targets, and natural product research and structure-activity relationship studies.

    Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal and pharmaceutical chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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