Neurodegenerative Eye Disorders: Role of Mitochondrial Dynamics and Genomics

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As a major source of cellular energy, mitochondria are critical for optimal ocular function. They are also essential for cell differentiation and survival. Mitochondrial mutations and oxidative damage to the mitochondrial DNA are important factors underlying the pathology of many ocular disorders. With increasing age, mitochondrial DNA damage accumulates and results in several eye diseases. It is evident that the mitochondrial genome is more susceptible to stress and damage than the nuclear genome, as it lacks histone protection, a nucleotide excision repair system, and recombination repair, and it is the source and target of free radicals. Accumulation of mitochondrial mutations beyond a certain threshold explains the marked variations in phenotypes seen in mitochondrial diseases and the molecular mechanisms related to the pathogenesis of several chronic disorders in the eye. This review details the structure and function of mitochondria and the mitochondrial genome along with the mitochondrial involvement in various neurodegenerative ophthalmic disorders.

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