Goldilocks was on to something when she preferred everything "just right." Harvard Medical School researchers have found that when it comes to the length of mitochondria, the power-producing organelles, applying the fairy tale's mantra is crucial to the health of a cell. More specifically, abnormalities in mitochondrail length promote the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
"There had been a fair amount of interest in mitochondria in Alzheimer's and tau-related diseases, but causality was unknown," said Brian DuBoff, first author of the study and a post-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Ultimately, a deeper understanding of the relationship between mitochondrial function and Alzheimer's may guide us to develop more targeted therapies in the future," said Mel Feany, HMS professor of pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and senior author of the paper.
The findings were published online in the August 23 issue of Nature.
Tau-related disease are caused when tau, a protein most commonly found in neurons, malfunctions. Tau binds to microtubules in cells, a process known as stabilization.