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Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:162934. doi: 10.1155/2012/162934. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

Translocator protein (18 kDa): a promising therapeutic target and diagnostic tool for cardiovascular diseases.

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Cell Metabolism Lab, School of Life Science, Shanghai University, 333 Nan Chen Road, Shanghai 200444, China.


The translocator protein (18 kDa) (TSPO) is a five transmembrane domain protein in mitochondria, abundantly expressed in a variety of organs and tissues. TSPO contributes to a wide range of biological processes, including cholesterol transportation, mitochondrial membrane potential and respiratory chain regulation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. Recent studies have demonstrated that TSPO might also be involved in the physiological regulation of cardiac chronotropy and inotropy. Accordingly, TSPO ligands play significant roles in protecting the cardiovascular systems under pathological conditions through cardiac electrical activity retention, intracellular calcium maintenance, mitochondrial energy provision, mitochondrial membrane potential equilibrium, and reactive oxygen species inhibition. This paper focuses on the physiological and pathological characteristics of TSPO in the cardiovascular systems and also summarizes the properties of TSPO ligands. TSPO represents a potential therapeutic target and diagnostic tool for cardiovascular diseases including arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, cardiac hypertrophy, atherosclerosis, myocarditis, and large vessel vasculitis.

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