Impaired mitochondrial energy metabolism as a novel risk factor for selective onset and progression of dementia in oldest-old subjects

Wei Zhao, Jun Wang, Merina Varghese, Lap Ho, Paolo Mazzola, Vahram Haroutunian, Pavel L. Katsel, Gary E. Gibson, Samara Levine, Lauren Dubner, Giulio Maria Pasinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent evidence shows that Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia in the oldest-old subjects was associated with significantly less amyloid plaque and fibrillary tangle neuropathology than in the young-old population. In this study, using quantitative (q) PCR studies, we validated genome-wide microarray RNA studies previously conducted by our research group. We found selective downregulation of mitochondrial energy metabolism genes in the brains of oldest-old, but not young-old, AD dementia cases, despite a significant lack of classic AD neuropathology features. We report a significant decrease of genes associated with mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism, the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), and glycolytic pathways. Moreover, significantly higher levels of nitrotyrosylated (3-NT)-proteins and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE) adducts, which are indexes of cellular protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation, respectively, were detected in the brains of oldest-old subjects at high risk of developing AD, possibly suggesting compensatory mechanisms. These findings support the hypothesis that although oldest-old AD subjects, characterized by significantly lower AD neuropathology than young-old AD subjects, have brain mitochondrial metabolism impairment, which we hypothesize may selectively contribute to the development of dementia. Outcomes from this study provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying clinical dementia in young-old and oldest-old AD subjects and provide novel strategies for AD prevention and treatment in oldest-old dementia cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-574
Number of pages10
JournalNeuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2015


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Dementia
  • Energy metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Neuropathology


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