2Institute of Mitoengineering, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia
3International Laser Center, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia
4Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia
5Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russian Federation, ul. Ostrovityanova 1, 117997 Moscow, Russia
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received May 13, 2013
Mitochondrial medicine was established more than 50 years ago after discovery of the very first pathology caused by impaired mitochondria. Since then, more than 100 mitochondrial pathologies have been discovered. However, the number may be significantly higher if we interpret the term “mitochondrial medicine” more widely and include in these pathologies not only those determined by the genetic apparatus of the nucleus and mitochondria, but also acquired mitochondrial defects of non-genetic nature. Now the main problems of mitochondriology arise from methodology, this being due to studies of mitochondrial activities under different models and conditions that are far from the functioning of mitochondria in a cell, organ, or organism. Controversial behavior of mitochondria (“friends and foes”) to some extent might be explained by their bacterial origin with possible preservation of “egoistic” features peculiar to bacteria. Apparently, for normal mitochondrial functioning it is essential to maintain homeostasis of a number of mitochondrial elements such as mitochondrial DNA structure, membrane potential, and the system of mitochondrial quality control. Abrogation of these elements can cause a number of pathologies that have become subjects of mitochondrial medicine. Some approaches to therapy of mitochondrial pathologies are discussed.
KEY WORDS: mitochondria, mitochondrial diseases, mitochondrial DNA, membrane potential, mitochondrial quality control, mitochondria-targeted antioxidants, bacteria, phenoptosis