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Mitochondrial physiology within myelinated axons in health and disease : an energetic interplay between counterparts

Abstract : The nervous system consists of several cell types that interact with each other in order to conduct action potentials from the neuronal soma through axons to the synapse. In peripheral nerves, Schwann cells interact with neurons by wrapping around the axon and creating a myelin sheath. This myelin sheath allows for fast conduction of action potentials from node of Ranvier to node of Ranvier, which are small unmyelinated areas of the axon. In addition, Schwann cells transfer lactate to the neuron, which the axonal mitochondria use to produce energy in the form of ATP. This is necessary, because many cellular processes, such as the conduction of action potentials use ATP. The production of ATP involves three mechanisms: anaerobic glycolysis in the cytosol and the Kreb’s cycle and electron transport chain within mitochondria. However, the production of ATP by mitochondria also results in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which cause cell damage. ROS can be present in several different forms and these different forms have specific properties. For example, superoxide anions are highly reactive and subsequently react rapidly with the molecules in their environment. Hydrogen peroxide on the other hand is less reactive but hence can diffuse over longer distances and react with their targets more distally. Fortunately, the cell contains a competent antioxidant system, which can reduce ROS to water. When mitochondria malfunction or when the equilibrium between ROS and antioxidants becomes in disbalance, neuropathies can develop, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. In the PNS, peripheral neuropathies can develop such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease as a result from an excess of ROS.In this thesis, I will provide an elaborate model for ATP and ROS production by axonal mitochondria in vivo. I will show how Schwann cells use the Warburg effect, the shift in metabolism from oxidative phosphorylation to anaerobic glycolysis, to produce lactate, which is then transported to the neuron for energy production. I also demonstrate that without the Warburg effect in Schwann cells neuronal metabolism would be impaired, leading to impaired ATP production, neuronal deficits and motor problems. Following action potential firing, not only ATP is produced by mitochondria, but also ROS, although with independent dynamics. In addition, I show that mitochondrial physiology is affected by several neuropathologies. In mitofusin2 deficient mice, a model for CMT2A, contact between the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria is impaired next to affected mitochondrial morphology and function. Also demyelination causes deficits in mitochondrial ATP and ROS production, showing a pathologic decoupling between ATP and ROS.To obtain these results, advanced imaging techniques were used to image peripheral nerves of transgenic mice. These transgenes were introduced in mice via injection of viral vectors which induce expression of fluorescent probes in neuronal cells. These fluorescent probes were detected via multiphoton microscopy. Next to the model for ATP and ROS production in peripheral nerves, I provide a protocol for introducing viral vectors into mouse sciatic nerves.
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Gerben Van Hameren. Mitochondrial physiology within myelinated axons in health and disease : an energetic interplay between counterparts. Human health and pathology. Université Montpellier, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018MONTT084⟩. ⟨tel-02053421⟩

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