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Mitochondria covered with a net of parallel and latticed filaments in nigral neurons of monkeys with experimental parkinsonism


Nigral neurons of crab-eating monkeys treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) showed a peculiar configuration occasionally in mitochondria. The outer membrane of mitochondria was covered with a net of fine parallel or latticed filaments, which turned spirally about the long axis of the mitochondria. The filaments were approximately 8 nm in diameter: parallel filaments were arranged at intervals of about 13 nm from center to center; and latticed filaments intersected each other at an angle of almost 135°. When mitochondria were present in groups, the intermitochondrial gap was occasionally filled with the same parallel filaments. The netted mitochondria were frequently associated with intramitochondrial abnormalities such as small flocculent inclusions and disintegrated cristae. Only one or two netted mitochondria were counted in the perikaryon of one section of an injured neuron. They appeared in about one-third of mildly or moderately injured neurons in three of six MPTP-treated monkeys, and not in normal surviving and recovering neurons of treated animals, or in neurons of control animals. We consider the netted mitochondria to be a pathological configuration related to a metabolite of oxidation of MPTP, and to be different from the stubby mitochondria reported in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and a non-ALS case.

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Correspondence to H. Nakamura.

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Supported in part by a grant from the CNS Degenerative Diseases Research Committee, the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan

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Nakamura, H., Kato, S. & Tanaka, J. Mitochondria covered with a net of parallel and latticed filaments in nigral neurons of monkeys with experimental parkinsonism. Acta Neuropathol 77, 489–493 (1989).

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Key words

  • Mitochondria
  • Parkinson disease
  • Substantia nigra
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)
  • Monkey