Mitochondrial Targets of Drug Toxicity

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2000;40:353-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.40.1.353.


Mitochondria have long been recognized as the generators of energy for the cell. Like any other power source, however, mitochondria are highly vulnerable to inhibition or uncoupling of the energy harnessing process and run a high risk for catastrophic damage to the cell. The exquisite structural and functional characteristics of mitochondria provide a number of primary targets for xenobiotic-induced bioenergetic failure. They also provide opportunities for selective delivery of drugs to the mitochondrion. In light of the large number of natural, commercial, pharmaceutical, and environmental chemicals that manifest their toxicity by interfering with mitochondrial bioenergetics, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms. The significance is further underscored by the recent identification of bioenergetic control points for cell replication and differentiation and the realization that mitochondria play a determinant role in cell signaling and apoptotic modes of cell death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electron Transport / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Uncoupling Agents / toxicity


  • Phenols
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases