Faculty of Medicine

The brain’s powerhouses are damaged in Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease

Mitochondrial failure contributes to Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, study suggests.

Charalampos Tzoulis
Charalampos "Haris" Tzoulis has studied mitochondria and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
Ingvild Festervoll Melien

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A study performed by researchers from the University of Bergen, Norway, and the University of Vienna, Austria, shows damage of the mitochondria –the cell’s microscopic powerhouses – in the brain of people with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 

The researchers found that the mitochondrial power generator (known as the respiratory chain) is severely impaired in brain cells from people who died with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 

“These mitochondrial defects were widespread in the brain and correlated with the severity of disease,” says Professor Charalampos Tzoulis at the Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen.

The study is published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

Suggests contribution to disease

Damaged mitochondria will no longer be able to provide the energy required for neuronal maintenance and function. 

“These findings strongly suggest that mitochondrial failure contributes to the pathogenesis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease,” says Tzoulis. 

Hoping for new treatment

Tzoulis highlight the need to better understand how mitochondrial failure contributes to Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.

 “We hope that this study may be exploited towards developing treatments for this incurable and deadly condition,” says Charalampos Tzoulis.