Single-cell approaches for studying the role of mitochondrial DNA in neurodegenerative disease

Laura J Bailey, Joanna L Elson, Ilse Pienaar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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In light of accumulating evidence suggestive of cell type-specific vulnerabilities as a result of normal aging processes that adversely affect the brain, as well as age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), the current chapter highlights how we study mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) changes at a single-cell level. In particular, we comment on increasing questioning of the narrow neurocentric view of such pathologies, where microglia and astrocytes have traditionally been considered bystanders rather than players in related pathological processes. Here we review the contribution made by single-cell mtDNA alterations towards neuronal vulnerability seen in neurodegenerative disorders, focusing on PD as a prominent example. In addition, we give an overview of methodologies that support such experimental investigations. In considering the significant advances that have been made in recent times for developing mitochondria-specific therapies, investigations to account for cell type-specific mitochondrial patterns and how these are altered by disease hold promise for delivering more effective disease-modifying therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMitochondrial Medicine
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 3: Manipulating Mitochondria and Disease- Specific Approaches
EditorsVolkmar Weissig, Marvin Edeas
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781071612705
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Aging/genetics
  • Brain/pathology
  • DNA, Mitochondrial/analysis
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases/genetics
  • Parkinson Disease/genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods
  • Single-Cell Analysis/methods


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