Mitochondria transform nutrients and oxygen into chemical energy that powers a multitude of cellular functions. While mitochondrial aerobic glycolysis generates the majority of a cell’s ATP, its byproducts also have wide-ranging influences on cellular health and longevity. This review series, edited by Dr. Michael Sack, focuses on the many contributions of mitochondria to disease and aging. The reviews highlight evidence linking altered mitochondrial metabolism and oxidative stress to a range of pathophysiological phenomena: inflammation and immune dysfunction, heart failure, cancer development, metabolic disease, and more. In many diseases and conditions, mitochondrial dysfunction is considered the tipping point toward pathological progression. However, as these reviews discuss, therapeutic targeting of mitochondria may be a powerful strategy to subvert disease and aging processes.
Remodeling of mitochondrial metabolism plays an important role in regulating immune cell fate, proliferation, and activity. Furthermore, given their bacterial ancestry, disruption in mitochondrial fidelity leading to extravasation of their content initiates and amplifies innate immune surveillance with a myriad of physiologic and pathologic consequences. Investigations into the role of mitochondria in the immune system have come to the fore, and appreciation of mitochondrial function and quality control in immune regulation has enhanced our understanding of disease pathogenesis and identified new targets for immune modulation. This mitochondria-centered Review focuses on the role of mitochondrial metabolism and fidelity, as well as the role of the mitochondria as a structural platform, for the control of immune cell polarity, activation, and signaling. Mitochondria-linked disease and mitochondrially targeted therapeutic strategies to manage these conditions are also discussed.
Michael N. Sack
The biological basis of human aging remains one of the greatest unanswered scientific questions. Increasing evidence, however, points to a role for alterations in mitochondrial function as a potential central regulator of the aging process. Here, we focus primarily on three aspects of mitochondrial biology that link this ancient organelle to how and why we age. In particular, we discuss the role of mitochondria in regulating the innate immune system, the mechanisms linking mitochondrial quality control to age-dependent pathology, and the possibility that mitochondrial-to-nuclear signaling might regulate the rate of aging.
Ji Yong Jang, Arnon Blum, Jie Liu, Toren Finkel
Diabetes profoundly alters fuel metabolism; both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance are characterized by inefficient mitochondrial coupling and excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) despite their association with normal to high oxygen consumption. Altered mitochondrial function in diabetes can be traced to insulin’s pivotal role in maintaining mitochondrial proteome abundance and quality by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis and preventing proteome damage and degradation, respectively. Although insulin enhances gene transcription, it also induces decreases in amino acids. Thus, if amino acid depletion is not corrected, increased transcription will not result in enhanced translation of transcripts to proteins. Mitochondrial biology varies among tissues, and although most studies in humans are performed in skeletal muscle, abnormalities have been reported in multiple organs in preclinical models of diabetes. Nutrient excess, especially fat excess, alters mitochondrial physiology by driving excess ROS emission that impairs insulin action. Excessive ROS irreversibly damages DNA and proteome with adverse effects on cellular functions. In insulin-resistant people, aerobic exercise stimulates both mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency concurrent with enhancement of insulin action. This Review discusses the association between both insulin-deficient and insulin-resistant diabetes and alterations in mitochondrial proteome homeostasis and function that adversely affect cellular functions, likely contributing to many diabetic complications.
Gregory N. Ruegsegger, Ana L. Creo, Tiffany M. Cortes, Surendra Dasari, K. Sreekumaran Nair
Mammalian cells use a complex network of redox-dependent processes necessary to maintain cellular integrity during oxidative metabolism, as well as to protect against and/or adapt to stress. The disruption of these redox-dependent processes, including those in the mitochondria, creates a cellular environment permissive for progression to a malignant phenotype and the development of resistance to commonly used anticancer agents. An extension of this paradigm is that when these mitochondrial functions are altered by the events leading to transformation and ensuing downstream metabolic processes, they can be used as molecular biomarkers or targets in the development of new therapeutic interventions to selectively kill and/or sensitize cancer versus normal cells. In this Review we propose that mitochondrial oxidative metabolism is altered in tumor cells, and the central theme of this dysregulation is electron transport chain activity, folate metabolism, NADH/NADPH metabolism, thiol-mediated detoxification pathways, and redox-active metal ion metabolism. It is proposed that specific subgroups of human malignancies display distinct mitochondrial transformative and/or tumor signatures that may benefit from agents that target these pathways.
Yueming Zhu, Angela Elizabeth Dean, Nobuo Horikoshi, Collin Heer, Douglas R. Spitz, David Gius
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a global epidemic in obese children and adults, and the onset might have fetal origins. A growing body of evidence supports the role of developmental programming, whereby the maternal environment affects fetal and infant development, altering the risk profile for disease later in life. Human and nonhuman primate studies of maternal obesity demonstrate that risk factors for pediatric obesity and NAFLD begin in utero. The pathologic mechanisms for NAFLD are multifactorial but have centered on altered mitochondrial function/dysfunction that might precede insulin resistance. Compared with the adult liver, the fetal liver has fewer mitochondria, low activity of the fatty acid metabolic enzyme carnitine palmitoyl-CoA transferase-1, and little or no gluconeogenesis. Exposure to excess maternal fuels during fetal life uniquely alters hepatic fatty acid oxidation, tricarboxylic acid cycle activity, de novo lipogenesis, and mitochondrial health. These events promote increased oxidative stress and excess triglyceride storage, and, together with altered immune function and epigenetic changes, they prime the fetal liver for NAFLD and might drive the risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in the next generation.
Peter R. Baker II, Jacob E. Friedman
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a heterogeneous and fatal disease of the lung vasculature, where metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction may drive pathogenesis. Similar to the Warburg effect in cancer, a shift from mitochondrial oxidation to glycolysis occurs in diseased pulmonary vessels and the right ventricle. However, appreciation of metabolic events in PH beyond the Warburg effect is only just emerging. This Review discusses molecular, translational, and clinical concepts centered on the mitochondria and highlights promising, controversial, and challenging areas of investigation. If we can move beyond the “mountains” of obstacles in this field and elucidate these fundamental tenets of pulmonary vascular metabolism, such work has the potential to usher in much-needed diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the mitochondrial and metabolic management of PH.
Miranda K. Culley, Stephen Y. Chan
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the development of heart failure. Oxidative metabolism in mitochondria is the main energy source of the heart, and the inability to generate and transfer energy has long been considered the primary mechanism linking mitochondrial dysfunction and contractile failure. However, the role of mitochondria in heart failure is now increasingly recognized to be beyond that of a failed power plant. In this Review, we summarize recent evidence demonstrating vicious cycles of pathophysiological mechanisms during the pathological remodeling of the heart that drive mitochondrial contributions from being compensatory to being a suicide mission. These mechanisms include bottlenecks of metabolic flux, redox imbalance, protein modification, ROS-induced ROS generation, impaired mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis, and inflammation. The interpretation of these findings will lead us to novel avenues for disease mechanisms and therapy.
Bo Zhou, Rong Tian