Mitochondrial homeostasis is essential for maintaining healthy cellular function and survival. The detrimental involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in neuro-degenerative diseases has recently been highlighted in human conditions, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is another neuro-degenerative, but also cardio-degenerative condition, where mitochondrial dysfunction plays a crucial role in disease progression. Deficient expression of the mitochondrial protein, frataxin, is the primary cause of FA, which leads to adverse alterations in whole cell and mitochondrial iron metabolism. Dys-regulation of iron metabolism in these compartments, results in the accumulation of inorganic iron deposits in the mitochondrial matrix that is thought to potentiate oxidative damage observed in FA. Therefore, the maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis is crucial in the progression of neuro-degenerative conditions, particularly in FA. In this review, vital mitochondrial homeostatic processes and their roles in FA pathogenesis will be discussed. These include mitochondrial iron processing, mitochondrial dynamics (fusion and fission processes), mitophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis, mitochondrial energy production and calcium metabolism.
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