Involvement of mitochondria in apoptosis

Cardiol Clin. 2001 Feb;19(1):45-55. doi: 10.1016/s0733-8651(05)70194-6.


Like in many other cell types, apoptosis can be induced by different stress in cells isolated from the cardiovascular system. The mitochondrial apoptotic pathway can be activated by serum deprivation, (9, 66) staurosporine treatment, (110) and oxidative stress. (14) The cytokine pathway is activated by TNF or Fas. (43, 52, 107) Immunohistochemical analysis of endomyocardial biopsies from patients with congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, ischemic cardiomyopathies, and myocarditis, have led to the identification of apoptotic cardiomyocytes. (15 41, 74) Therefore, the pre-existing death program evidenced in isolated cardiomyocytes also may be activated in cardiomyopathies. Apoptosis also has been detected in vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and restenosis.49 It is likely that mitochondria, through permeabilization of their outer membrane, play a major role in many apoptotic responses leading to cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Elucidation of the mechanism whereby mitochondrial cell-death effectors are released in the cytosol should open the opportunity of developing compounds able to regulate the progression of apoptosis. The development of drugs acting on the mitochondrion may allow the prevention or the limitation of the seriousness of many cardiovascular diseases in which apoptosis has been detected.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Heart / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2