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Cell Death Dis. 2014 Jul 3;5:e1312. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2014.277.

Mitochondria released by cells undergoing TNF-α-induced necroptosis act as danger signals.

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Division of Molecular Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Necrosis leads to the release of so-called damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which may provoke inflammatory responses. However, the release of organelles from dying cells, and the consequences thereof have not been documented before. We demonstrate here that mitochondria are released from cells undergoing tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-induced, receptor-interacting protein (RIP)1-dependent necroptosis, a form of programmed necrosis. The released, purified mitochondria were determined to be intact as they did not emit appreciable amounts of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Pharmacological inhibition of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) prevented mitochondrial fission in TNF-α-triggered cells, but this did not block necroptosis nor the concomitant release of mitochondria. Importantly, primary human macrophages and dendritic cells engulfed mitochondria from necroptotic cells leading to modulation of macrophage secretion of cytokines and induction of dendritic cell maturation. Our results show that intact mitochondria are released from necroptotic cells and suggest that these organelles act as bona fide danger signals.

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