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Ann Pharm Fr. 2001 Feb;59(1):3-21.

[Mitochondria: recent pathophysiological discoveries and new therapeutic perspectives].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Membre de l'Académie nationale de Pharmacie, Avenue du Canada, F91966 Les Ulis, Cedex, France.


Until about a decade ago, few researchers in clinical or evolutionary biology paid much attention to mitochondria. But over the years, as technological advances in molecular biology made nuclear functions more accessible to them, interest in mitochondria began to revive. First, geneticists started tracing certain rare inherited disorders to mutations in the mitochondria's circular genome. More recently, other researchers have speculated that mitochondria might contribute to aging, either by releasing tissue-damaging reactive oxygen molecules or by impairing and depriving the cell of the energy it needs to function. One the most important recent developments has been the recognition that mitochondria play a central role in the regulation of programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Now, we know that mitochondria play a decisive role in life-death decisions for the cell and may choose between the apoptotic and necrotic pathways. Mitochondria can trigger cell death in a number of ways: by disrupting electron transport and energy metabolism, by activating the mitochondrial permeability transition, by releasing and/or activating proteins that mediate apoptosis. Any or all of these mechanisms may help to explain how mitochondrial defects contribute to the pathogenesis of neuronal death or dysfunction in ischemia/reperfusion injury as well as in human degenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Huntington's disease. This has opened up new avenues for understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration and may lead to new and more effective therapeutic approaches to these diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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