Article Points to Major Role Mitochondrial Function May
Play in Development of Depression and Bipolar Disorder;
Calls for New Treatment Approaches, More Efficient
TITUSVILLE, N.J. - April 24, 2012 - Janssen Research &
Development, LLC announced today the publication of an
article that reviews the growing evidence that impaired
mitochondrial function may play a major role in mood and
psychotic disorders. The review discusses recent data
from a wide array of human and animal studies that strongly
support the theory that impaired mitochondrial function
might disrupt neural plasticity pathways and reduce
cellular resilience. These changes may, in turn,
promote the development or progression of mood disorders
such as major depression and bipolar disorder (BPD), as
well as other psychiatric disorders for which the evidence
is more limited, such as autism and schizophrenia.
The article, "Impaired mitochondrial function in
psychiatric disorders," is published in the May 2012
issue of NATURE REVIEWS/Neuroscience.
The studies discussed in the review highlight the high
incidence of psychiatric illness in many diseases where
mitochondrial dysfunction or genetic mitochondrial defects
are present. Further, the studies suggest that
'healthy' mitochondrial function may be a key regulator of
synaptic strength and cellular resilience in neuronal
circuits that mediate complex, high-order brain functions
such as cognition, affect, perception, and
"Unlocking the mysteries of brain function is fundamental
to addressing the health and wellness of people who suffer
from disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and
autism," said Husseini K. Manji, M.D., Global Therapeutic
Area Head for Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development,
LLC and lead author of the review. "In elucidating
the role of mitochondrial function in the development and
progression of these diseases, we are uncovering potential
new avenues for their treatment. Our goal is to
advance additional research and the development of new and
novel therapeutics for these complex disorders."
To help advance the development of such novel therapies,
the authors call for increased research into mitochondrial
dysfunction, and stress the need for new strategies in the
development of truly novel treatments for highly disabling
psychiatric illnesses. In particular, they advocate
the testing of compounds with improved central nervous
system (CNS) penetration, as well as compounds other than
Because mitochondria play a broad and fundamental role in
cellular processes, the development of novel therapeutics
that specifically target mitochondria might be considered
particularly challenging, given their potential
CNS-specific effects. Thus, the authors also propose
an innovative and potentially more efficient approach to
drug development: one in which the smallest common
denominator is targeted as the treatment; subsequent
efforts would be aimed at scaling up treatments to yield
benefits that are more broadly applicable across a range of
diseases sharing underlying origins. In the context
of the review, disorders for which either the primary
defect occurs in the mitochondria or where there is strong
evidence that mitochondria play a key role in disease
pathology would represent the most likely targets for
treatment success. If successful, this strategy could
potentially benefit an entire family of disorders
associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in an efficient,
The complete text of the review article, "Impaired
mitochondrial function in psychiatric disorders," is
About Mitochondria and Psychiatric Disorders
Mitochondria are specialized sub-units of cells that play a
pivotal role in cellular energy metabolism; they are also
involved in the metabolism of amino acids, lipids, and
steroids, the modulation of cellular calcium levels, the
production of free radicals, and the regulation of cell
death.[1-5] In the brain, mitochondria are essential
to neurotransmission, to the regulation of synaptic
activity, learning, and memory,[6-9] to short- and
long-term neuronal plasticity, to cellular resilience to
stress, and to behavioral adaptation. Dysfunction in
these metabolic processes is implicated in a wide variety
of diseases, including psychiatric disorders.
Janssen's work in mental health is part of its Healthy
Minds initiative, which builds on Janssen's longstanding
legacy of achievement in advancing neuroscience
research. The company's work in this area dates back
to the 1950's, and to the discovery and development by Dr.
Paul Janssen of one of the first breakthrough treatments
for schizophrenia. Indeed, Janssen Research &
Development, LLC is named for Dr. Paul Janssen-known as one
of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate physicians
and pharmaceutical researchers. Over the last half
century, Janssen has discovered, developed and launched
many innovative treatments for brain and central nervous
system (CNS) conditions and remains firmly committed to
neuroscience. Janssen commits more than $12 million
annually to public and professional education about mental
illness and brain disorders, sponsorships and philanthropy
in the field of neuroscience and mental health.
Janssen Research & Development, LLC
Janssen Research & Development, LLC is headquartered in
Raritan, N.J., and has facilities throughout Europe, the
United States, and Asia. The company is actively
involved in drug discovery and development to address key,
unmet medical needs worldwide across a variety of
therapeutic areas, including Cardiovascular and Metabolism,
Central Nervous System, Immunology, Oncology, and Virology
to address unmet medical needs worldwide. More
information can be found at http://www.janssenrnd.com/.
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