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J Cell Physiol. 1989 Oct;141(1):53-9.

ATP hydrolysis by ischemic mitochondria.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201.


Cellular ATP levels are determined by the rates of ATP production and ATP hydrolysis. Both phenomena are affected by ischemia. Mitochondrial enzymes are damaged, inhibiting this organelle's ability to make ATP. Mitochondria are also uncoupled by ischemia and have the ability to hydrolyze ATP. We designed a series of experiments to determine whether decreased production or increased hydrolysis of ATP was the primary effect of mitochondrial damage. Rat hearts were subjected to 45 min of warm ischemia in order to induce irreversible cell damage. ATP or ADP was injected into cuvettes containing mitochondria isolated from normal myocardium or myocardium damaged by ischemia. Luciferin-luciferase, which fluoresces in the presence of ATP, was also added to the tubes as an indicator of ATP levels. Mixtures of uncoupled and coupled mitochondria were made and compared with the mitochondria damaged by ischemia. The results showed that mitochondria damaged by prolonged ischemia hydrolyze ATP more rapidly than normal mitochondria; however, normal mitochondria can easily compensate for increased ATP hydrolysis when in mixture with equal amounts of uncoupled mitochondria. These data suggests that the low cellular levels of ATP following irreversible ischemia are primarily due to decreased ATP synthesis and not to increased hydrolysis.

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