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Journal Articles BMC Medicine Year : 2011

Friedreich's ataxia: the vicious circle hypothesis revisited

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Abstract

Friedreich's ataxia, the most frequent progressive autosomal recessive disorder involving the central and peripheral nervous systems, is mostly associated with unstable expansion of GAA trinucleotide repeats in the first intron of the FXN gene, which encodes the mitochondrial frataxin protein. Since FXN was shown to be involved in Friedreich's ataxia in the late 1990s, the consequence of frataxin loss of function has generated vigorous debate. Very early on we suggested a unifying hypothesis according to which frataxin deficiency leads to a vicious circle of faulty iron handling, impaired iron-sulphur cluster synthesis and increased oxygen radical production. However, data from cell and animal models now indicate that iron accumulation is an inconsistent and late event and that frataxin deficiency does not always impair the activity of iron-sulphur cluster-containing proteins. In contrast, frataxin deficiency appears to be consistently associated with increased sensitivity to reactive oxygen species as opposed to increased oxygen radical production. By compiling the findings of fundamental research and clinical observations we defend here the opinion that the very first consequence of frataxin depletion is indeed an abnormal oxidative status which initiates the pathogenic mechanism underlying Friedreich's ataxia.
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inserm-00634737 , version 1 (22-10-2011)

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Aurélien Bayot, Renata Santos, Jean-Michel Camadro, Pierre Rustin. Friedreich's ataxia: the vicious circle hypothesis revisited. BMC Medicine, 2011, 9 (1), pp.112. ⟨10.1186/1741-7015-9-112⟩. ⟨inserm-00634737⟩
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