Mitochondria are important cellular organelles with key regulatory functions in energy production, oxidative balance, and calcium homeostasis. This is especially important in the brain, since neurons require a large number of functional mitochondria to supply their high energy requirement, mainly for synaptic processes. A decrease in the activity and quality of mitochondria in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, is associated with normal aging and a large number of neurodegenerative diseases compromising memory function. Although synaptic and cognitive dysfunction is multifactorial, growing evidence demonstrates that mitochondria play a key role in these processes and suggests that maintaining mitochondrial function could prevent these age-dependent alterations. In this chapter, we will discuss the hippocampal mitochondrial dysfunction present in aging and how these defects promote age-associated synaptic damage and cognitive impairment. We will summarize evidence that shows how neurodegeneration can be accelerated or attenuated during aging by modulating mitochondrial function.
Part of the book: Mitochondria and Brain Disorders