Mitochondria in apoptosis and human disease.
Apoptosis is a process of cell suicide whereby individual cells are destroyed while preserving the integrity and architecture of surrounding tissue. This targeted cell destruction is critical both in physiological contexts as well as pathological states. It seems increasingly evident that mitochondria play an important role in the regulation of programmed cell death via release of proapoptotic agents and/or disruption of cellular energy metabolism. The mechanisms of mitochondrial involvement are beginning to be elucidated, and may involve the participation of bcl-2 family members, reactive oxygen species, and caspases. As part of a central mechanism of amplification of the apoptotic signal, mitochondria may be an appropriate target for therapeutic agents designed to modulate apoptosis. This review focuses on recent advances in understanding mitochondrial mechanisms in apoptosis and the involvement of these pathways in human disease.
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