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Pharmacol Rev. 2002 Mar;54(1):101-27.

Mitochondria as a pharmacological target.

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  • 1Laboratory of Intracellular Ion Channels, Department of Cellular Biochemistry, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.


Mitochondria play a central role in energy metabolism within the cell. Mitochondrial dysfunctions lead to various neurodegenerative disorders and to the so-called "mitochondrial diseases". A vast amount of evidence points to the implication of mitochondria in such complex processes as apoptosis and cardioprotection. The purpose of this review is to present a recent state of our knowledge and understanding of the action of various therapeutically applied substances on mitochondria. These include antitumor, immunosuppressant, and antiviral drugs, potassium channel openers, sulfonylureas, and anesthetics. Some of these substances are specifically designed to affect mitochondrial functions. In other cases, drugs with primary targets in other cellular locations may modify mitochondrial functions as side effects. In any case, identification of mitochondria as primary or secondary targets of a drug may help us to better understand the drug's mechanism of action and open new perspectives for its application. As far as possible, the molecular mechanisms of the interference of particular drugs in the mitochondrial metabolism will be described. In some cases, metabolic routes in which the drugs interfere will also be briefly outlined.

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