DLP1-dependent mitochondrial fragmentation mediates 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium toxicity in neurons: Implications for Parkinson's disease

Xinglong Wang, Bo Su, Wanhong Liu, Xiaohua He, Yuan Gao, Rudy J. Castellani, George Perry, Mark A. Smith, Xiongwei Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Selective degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD) can be modeled by the administration of the neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP +). Because abnormal mitochondrial dynamics are increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of PD, in this study, we investigated the effect of MPP + on mitochondrial dynamics and assessed temporal and causal relationship with other toxic effects induced by MPP + in neuronal cells. In SH-SY5Y cells, MPP + causes a rapid increase in mitochondrial fragmentation followed by a second wave of increase in mitochondrial fragmentation, along with increased DLP1 expression and mitochondrial translocation. Genetic inactivation of DLP1 completely blocks MPP +-induced mitochondrial fragmentation. Notably, this approach partially rescues MPP +-induced decline in ATP levels and ATP/ADP ratio and increased [Ca 2+] i and almost completely prevents increased reactive oxygen species production, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, enhanced autophagy and cell death, suggesting that mitochondria fragmentation is an upstream event that mediates MPP +-induced toxicity. On the other hand, thiol antioxidant N-acetylcysteine or glutamate receptor antagonist D-AP5 also partially alleviates MPP +-induced mitochondrial fragmentation, suggesting a vicious spiral of events contributes to MPP +-induced toxicity. We further validated our findings in primary rat midbrain dopaminergic neurons that 0.5μm MPP + induced mitochondrial fragmentation only in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive dopaminergic neurons in a similar pattern to that in SH-SY5Y cells but had no effects on these mitochondrial parameters in TH-negative neurons. Overall, these findings suggest that DLP1-dependent mitochondrial fragmentation plays a crucial role in mediating MPP +-induced mitochondria abnormalities and cellular dysfunction and may represent a novel therapeutic target for PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-823
Number of pages17
JournalAging Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • DLP1/Drp1
  • MPP+
  • Mitochondrial dynamics
  • Mitochondrial fragmentation
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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