Astrocytes eyeball axonal mitochondria

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Science  25 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6195, pp. 385-386
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258295

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Sustaining a healthy population of mitochondria in a neuron requires a balance of de novo biogenesis of new mitochondria or mitochondrial components and removal of damaged mitochondrial membrane, proteins, and DNA (1, 2). Recent evidence suggests that mitochondria must be actively transported between the cell body and axon (2). A new study by Davis et al. (3) offers a surprising alternative: Axons expel mitochondria to neighboring astrocytes for degradation. This unexpected finding might reshape how we think of mitochondrial disposal in the nervous system.