Acute mental stress induces mitochondrial bioenergetic crisis and hyper-fission along with aberrant mitophagy in the gut mucosa in rodent model of stress-related mucosal disease.

Research paper by Rudranil R De, Somnath S Mazumder, Souvik S Sarkar, Subhashis S Debsharma, Asim Azhar AA Siddiqui, Shubhra Jyoti SJ Saha, Chinmoy C Banerjee, Shiladitya S Nag, Debanjan D Saha, Uday U Bandyopadhyay

Indexed on: 11 Oct '17Published on: 11 Oct '17Published in: Free Radical Biology & Medicine


Psychological stress, depression and anxiety lead to multiple organ dysfunctions wherein stress-related mucosal disease (SRMD) is common to people experiencing stress and also occur as a side effect in patients admitted to intensive care units; however the underlying molecular aetiology is still obscure. We report that in rat-SRMD model, cold restraint-stress severely damaged gut mitochondrial functions to generate superoxide anion (O2(•-)), depletion of ATP and shifted mitochondrial fission-fusion dynamics towards enhanced fission to induce mucosal injury. Activation of mitophagy to clear damaged, fragmented mitochondria was evident from mitochondrial translocation of Parkin and PINK1 along with enhanced mitochondrial proteome ubiquitination, depletion of mitochondrial DNA copy number and TOM 20. However, excess and sustained accumulation of O2(•-)-generating defective mitochondria overpowered the mitophagic machinery, ultimately triggering Bax-dependent apoptosis and NF-κB-intervened pro-inflammatory mucosal injury. We further observed that stress-induced enhanced serum corticosterone stimulated mitochondrial recruitment of glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which contributed to gut mitochondrial dysfunctions as documented from reduced ETC complex 1 activity, mitochondrial O2(•-) accumulation, depolarization and hyper-fission. GR-antagonism by RU486 or specific scavenging of mitochondrial O2(•-) by a mitochondrially targeted antioxidant mitoTEMPO ameliorated stress-induced mucosal damage. Gut mitopathology and mucosal injury were also averted when the perception of mental stress was blocked by pre-treatment with a sedative or antipsychotic. Altogether, we suggest the role of mitochondrial GR-O2(•-)-fission cohort in brain-mitochondria cross-talk during acute mental stress and advocate the utilization of this pathway as a potential target to prevent mitochondrial unrest and gastropathy bypassing central nervous system.