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Clinical Implications of Basic Neuroscience Research
January 2018

Extracellular Mitochondria for Therapy and Diagnosis in Acute Central Nervous System Injury

Author Affiliations
  • 1Neuroprotection Research Laboratories, Departments of Radiology and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts
  • 2Departments of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Department of Neurology, Cardio-Neurology Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Cerebrovascular Research Center, XuanWu Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(1):119-122. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.3475

Objective  Acute central nervous system (CNS) injury after stroke and trauma remains a clinical challenge with limited diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. In this article, we review studies suggesting that after CNS injury, mitochondria can be released into extracellular space as a “help-me” signal to augment recovery. Results are taken from experimental studies in cell and animal models and an initial proof-of-concept analysis in humans suggesting the functional relevance of extracellular mitochondria after acute CNS injury.

Observations  After acute CNS injury, (1) mitochondria may be released into extracellular space, (2) mitochondria may be transferred between cells, and (3) levels of extracellular mitochondria may serve as potential biomarkers for recovery.

Conclusions and Relevance  Further translational and clinical studies are warranted to assess the overall hypothesis of using extracellular mitochondria as a therapy and biomarker in the CNS after stroke and trauma.

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