As the mitochondria are responsible for producing energy, any illness that has an energy problem could be related to the mitochondria.
Diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction have been implicated include Alzheimer’s Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), intellectual disability, deafness and blindness, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Over 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from these chronic degenerative disorders. While it cannot yet be said that mitochondrial defects cause these problems, it is clear that mitochondria are involved because their function is measurably disturbed.
Even autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Sjogrens syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis appear to have a mitochondrial basis to illness. Mitochondrial dysfunction has also been associated with a wide range of solid tumors, proposed to be central to the aging process, and found to be a common factor in the toxicity of a variety of physical and chemical agents.
Highlights in Research
Until recently, the broad range of diseases that may be caused by mitochondrial dysfunction was not well understood or appreciated. A relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and a wide range of disease states was known to exist, but whether mitochondrial dysfunction was responsible for the particular disease was still in question.
This changed with the discovery that mutations of the mitochondrial DNA could cause certain diseases. For the first time, scientists have shown that a single nucleotide change in mitochondrial DNA of a mouse led to the development of muscle weakness and progressive heart disease.
Research supporting the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and some of these other common illnesses includes:
Mitochondrial coenzyme Q10 levels are reduced in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and mitochondrial function in these patients is impaired.
Results of the first placebo-controlled clinical trial of the compound coenzyme Q10 suggest that it can slow disease progression in patients with early-stage Parkinson’s disease.
These findings are consistent with another recent study involving patients with early onset Huntington’s disease. These patients showed slightly less functional decline in groups receiving CoQ10.
Investigators believe CoQ10 works by improving the function of the mitochondria.
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