, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 315-325,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Jul 2010

Metabolic manipulators: a well founded strategy to combat mitochondrial dysfunction


Whilst the pathophysiology and genetics of mitochondrial disease are slowly being unraveled, currently no effective remedy for mitochondrial disorders is available. One particular strategy in mitochondrial medicine presently under study is metabolic manipulation. This approach is aimed at counteracting the deranged cell biological homeostasis caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, using dietary modifications or small molecule therapy. Cell biological alterations caused by mitochondrial dysfunction include increased reactive oxygen species production, enhanced lipid peroxidation and altered cellular calcium homeostasis. This review covers the five principles of metabolic manipulation: (1) prevention of oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species, (2) amelioration of lipid peroxidation, (3) correction of altered membrane potential, (4) restoration of calcium homeostasis, and (5) transcription regulation interference. We hypothesize that a combination of compounds targeting different metabolic pathways will abolish cellular disturbance arising as a consequences of mitochondrial dysfunction, and thereby improve or stabilize clinical features. However, only a handful of compounds have reached efficacy testing in mammals, and it remains unknown to what extent metabolic manipulation will affect the whole organism. Until a potent remedy is found, patients will remain dependent on supportive, not curative, interventions.

Communicated by: John Christodoulou
References to electronic databases: e.g., OMIM disorder/gene accession number(s)
#606426 Co-enzyme Q biosynthesis defects;
#535000 Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy;
#229300 Friedreich Ataxia;
#255110 carnitine palmitoyltransferase II deficiency (adult onset)
Competing interest: None declared.