Mitochondrial Function

Mitochondria are the energy production factories inside all of our cells. Mitochondrial disorders lead to problems with energy production in every cell.  Mitochondrial dysfunction is when the mitochondria are still functioning but not creating enough energy to adequately support development.

An area of significant interest in autism investigation is the role that mitochondrial dysfunction plays.  A recent Portugeuse study (Oliveira et al. 2005) screened 120 children and found mitochondrial respiratory chain disorder in 7.2 % of children.

Dr. Jill James’s research has identified mitochondrial glutathione (see B12 and Methylation as well as Heavy Metal Detoxification sections for more information) depletion as a potential underlying metabolic factor in autism in her 2009 study.

According to John Pangborn, PhD, co-founder of Defeat Autism Now!, mitochondrial disorders lead to increase in proprionic acid which Dr. Derrick MacFabe’s research has identified as having the ability to induce autism like symptoms in rodents (for more information read the Yeast, Clostridia and Viruses section of this website).

The new research surrounding mitochondrial dysfunction fits into the bacterial gut-mediated autism model proposed by Dr. MacFabe because proprionic acid causes problems with the mitochondrial function.  This also begins to explains why CARNITINE helps so many children with ASD and other developmental concerns.  Carnitine shuttles essential fatty acids inside the cells and is very important for mitochondrial function.

Relative carnitine deficiency is very common in ASD and can be evaluated by testing acyl carnitine in the blood or through ORGANIC ACID TESTING (see Testing section for more information).  Carnitine is essential for fattyacid metabolism because it acts as a shuttle into the mitochondrial matrix.  Carnitine is to fat metabolism what insulin is to sugar metabolism. 


Mito support is a supplement designed by Dr. Sonya Doherty in conjunction with Signature Supplements.  Research and clinical experience supports the use of these ingredients to greatly benefit development when mitochondrial dysfunction is suspected or identified through tesitng.

Ingredients include: CoQ10, R-lipoic acid and phosphatidylserine.