Mitochondria and the regulation of free radical damage in the eye.J Ocul Biol Dis Infor. 2009 Sep; 2(3):145-148.JO
Neuronal cell death can be determined by the overall level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) resulting from the combination of extrinsic sources and intrinsic production as a byproduct of oxidative phosphorylation. Key controllers of the intrinsic production of ROS are the mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs). By allowing a controlled leak of protons across the inner mitochondrial membrane activation of these proteins can decrease ROS and promote cell survival. In both primate models of Parkinson's disease and mouse models of seizures, increased activity of UCP2 significantly increased neuronal cells survival. In the retina UCP2 is expressed in many neurons and glial cells, but was not detected in rod photoreceptors. Retinal ganglion cell survival following excitotoxic damage was much greater in animals overexpressing UCP2. Traditional Chinese medicines, such as an extract of Cistanche tubulosa, may provide benefit by altering mitochondrial metabolism.