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Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jul;464(1):123-31. doi: 10.1007/s00424-012-1079-x. Epub 2012 Feb 11.

Mitochondria play a central role in nonischemic cardiomyocyte necrosis: common to acute and chronic stressor states.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 956 Court Ave., Suite A312, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


The survival of cardiomyocytes must be ensured as the myocardium adjusts to a myriad of competing physiological and pathophysiological demands. A significant loss of these contractile cells, together with their replacement by stiff fibrillar collagen in the form of fibrous tissue accounts for a transition from a usually efficient muscular pump into one that is failing. Cellular and subcellular mechanisms involved in the pathogenic origins of cardiomyocyte cell death have long been of interest. This includes programmed molecular pathways to either necrosis or apoptosis, which are initiated from ischemic or nonischemic origins. Herein, we focus on the central role played by a mitochondriocentric signal-transducer-effector pathway to nonischemic cardiomyocyte necrosis, which is common to acute and chronic stressor states. We begin by building upon the hypothesis advanced by Albrecht Fleckenstein and coworkers some 40 years ago based on the importance of calcitropic hormone-mediated intracellular Ca(2+) overloading, which predominantly involves subsarcolemmal mitochondria and is the signal to pathway activation. Other pathway components, which came to be recognized in subsequent years, include the induction of oxidative stress and opening of the mitochondrial inner membrane permeability transition pore. The ensuing loss of cardiomyocytes and consequent replacement fibrosis, or scarring, represents a disease of adaptation and a classic example of when homeostasis begets dyshomeostasis.

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