Mevalonolactone disrupts mitochondrial functions and induces permeability transition pore opening in rat brain mitochondria: Implications for the pathogenesis of mevalonic aciduria

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Mevalonic aciduria (MVA) is caused by severe deficiency of mevalonic kinase activity leading to tissue accumulation and high urinary excretion of mevalonic acid (MA) and mevalonolactone (ML). Patients usually present severe neurologic symptoms whose pathophysiology is poorly known. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the major accumulating metabolites are toxic by investigating the in vitro effects of MA and ML on important mitochondrial functions in rat brain and liver mitochondria. ML, but not MA, markedly decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), NAD(P)H content and the capacity to retain Ca2+ in the brain, besides inducing mitochondrial swelling. These biochemical alterations were totally prevented by the classical inhibitors of mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) cyclosporine A and ADP, as well as by ruthenium red in Ca2+-loaded mitochondria, indicating the involvement of MPT and an important role for mitochondrial Ca2+ in these effects. ML also induced lipid peroxidation and markedly inhibited aconitase activity, an enzyme that is highly susceptible to free radical attack, in brain mitochondrial fractions, indicating that lipid and protein oxidative damage may underlie some of ML-induced deleterious effects including MTP induction. In contrast, ML and MA did not compromise oxidative phosphorylation in the brain and all mitochondrial functions evaluated in the liver, evidencing a selective toxicity of ML towards the central nervous system. Our present study provides for the first time evidence that ML impairs essential brain mitochondrial functions with the involvement of MPT pore opening. It is therefore presumed that disturbance of brain mitochondrial homeostasis possibly contributes to the neurologic symptoms in MVA.

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