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Circ Res. 2013 Apr 12;112(8):1171-88. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.300233.

Mitochondria and endothelial function.

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  • 1Evans Department of Medicine, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


In contrast to their role in cell types with higher energy demands, mitochondria in endothelial cells primarily function in signaling cellular responses to environmental cues. This article provides an overview of key aspects of mitochondrial biology in endothelial cells, including subcellular location, biogenesis, dynamics, autophagy, reactive oxygen species production and signaling, calcium homeostasis, regulated cell death, and heme biosynthesis. In each section, we introduce key concepts and then review studies showing the importance of that mechanism to endothelial control of vasomotor tone, angiogenesis, and/or inflammatory activation. We particularly highlight the small number of clinical and translational studies that have investigated each mechanism in human subjects. Finally, we review interventions that target different aspects of mitochondrial function and their effects on endothelial function. The ultimate goal of such research is the identification of new approaches for therapy. The reviewed studies make it clear that mitochondria are important in endothelial physiology and pathophysiology. A great deal of work will be needed, however, before mitochondria-directed therapies are available for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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