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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2004 Oct;287(4):C817-33.

Calcium, ATP, and ROS: a mitochondrial love-hate triangle.

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University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 711, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The mitochondrion is at the core of cellular energy metabolism, being the site of most ATP generation. Calcium is a key regulator of mitochondrial function and acts at several levels within the organelle to stimulate ATP synthesis. However, the dysregulation of mitochondrial Ca(2+) homeostasis is now recognized to play a key role in several pathologies. For example, mitochondrial matrix Ca(2+) overload can lead to enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species, triggering of the permeability transition pore, and cytochrome c release, leading to apoptosis. Despite progress regarding the independent roles of both Ca(2+) and mitochondrial dysfunction in disease, the molecular mechanisms by which Ca(2+) can elicit mitochondrial dysfunction remain elusive. This review highlights the delicate balance between the positive and negative effects of Ca(2+) and the signaling events that perturb this balance. Overall, a "two-hit" hypothesis is developed, in which Ca(2+) plus another pathological stimulus can bring about mitochondrial dysfunction.

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