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Mitochondria at Work: Creating the Seeds of their own Destruction
Reactive Oxygen (Free Radicals) and mtDNA mutation
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  • Mitochondria combine hydrogen derived from dietary carbohydrates and fats with oxygen to generate heat and ATP.
  • Electrons flowing through the electron transport chain, made up of OXPHOS complexes I through V, are used to pump protons out of the mitochondrial inner membrane.
  • This creates an electrical charge used to generate ATP, which powers most of the cell’s biochemical reactions.
  • As a toxic by-product of OXPHOS, mitochondria generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), called free radicals. At high levels, free radicals damage mtDNA, nuclear DNA, proteins, lipids, and other molecules in the cell.
  • As the percentage of mutated mtDNA in a cell increases, mitochondrial energy output declines, ROS production increases, and the likelihood of cell death increases.
  • Energy deficiency caused by these factors, as well as inherited mtDNA mutations, have been linked to numerous diseases.

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SOURCE:  The Scientist Magazine

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