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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Jun;33(6):341-52. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Mitochondrial pharmacology.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Mitochondria are being recognized as key factors in many unexpected areas of biomedical science. In addition to their well-known roles in oxidative phosphorylation and metabolism, it is now clear that mitochondria are also central to cell death, neoplasia, cell differentiation, the innate immune system, oxygen and hypoxia sensing, and calcium metabolism. Disruption to these processes contributes to a range of human pathologies, making mitochondria a potentially important, but currently seemingly neglected, therapeutic target. Mitochondrial dysfunction is often associated with oxidative damage, calcium dyshomeostasis, defective ATP synthesis, or induction of the permeability transition pore. Consequently, therapies designed to prevent these types of damage are beneficial and can be used to treat many diverse and apparently unrelated indications. Here we outline the biological properties that make mitochondria important determinants of health and disease, and describe the pharmacological strategies being developed to address mitochondrial dysfunction.

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