Mitochondrial dysfunction is elevated in very early stages of Alzheimer's disease and exacerbates oxidative stress, which contributes to disease pathology. Mitochondria were isolated from 4-month-old wild-type mice, transgenic mice carrying the APP and PSEN1 mutations, mice with decreased brain and mitochondrial ascorbate (vitamin C) via heterozygous knockout of the sodium dependent vitamin C transporter (SVCT2) and transgenic APP/PSEN1 mice with heterozygous SVCT2 expression. Mitochondrial isolates from SVCT2 mice were observed to consume less oxygen using high-resolution respirometry, and also exhibited decreased mitochondrial membrane potential compared to wild type isolates. Conversely, isolates from young (4 months) APP/PSEN1 mice consumed more oxygen, and exhibited an increase in mitochondrial membrane potential, but had a significantly lower ATP/ADP ratio compared to wild type isolates. Greater levels of reactive oxygen species were also produced in mitochondria isolated from both APP/PSEN1 and SVCT2 mice compared to wild type isolates. Acute administration of ascorbate to mitochondria isolated from wild-type mice increased oxygen consumption compared with untreated mitochondria suggesting ascorbate may support energy production. This study suggests that both presence of amyloid and ascorbate deficiency can contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction, even at an early, prodromal stage of Alzheimer's disease, although occurring via different pathways. Ascorbate may, therefore, provide a useful preventative strategy against neurodegenerative disease, particularly in populations most at risk for Alzheimer's disease in which stores are often depleted through mitochondrial dysfunction and elevated oxidative stress.
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