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Mitochondria/metabolic reprogramming in the formation of neurons from peripheral cells: Cause or consequence and the implications to their utility.
The induction of pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from differentiated cells such as fibroblasts and their subsequent conversion to neural progenitor cells (NPC) and finally to neurons is intriguing scientifically, and its potential to medicine is nearly infinite, but unrealized. A better understanding of the changes at each step of the transformation will enable investigators to better model neurological disease. Each step of conversion from a differentiated cell to an iPSC to a NPC to neurons requires large changes in glycolysis including aerobic glycolysis, the pentose shunt, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, the electron transport chain and in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These mitochondrial/metabolic changes are required and their manipulation modifies conversions. These same mitochondrial/metabolic processes are altered in common neurological diseases so that factors related to the disease may alter the cellular transformation at each step including the final phenotype. A lack of understanding of these interactions could compromise the validity of the disease comparisons in iPSC derived neurons. Both the complexity and potential of iPSC derived cells for understanding and treating disease remain great.