Mitochondrial matrix reactive oxygen species production is very sensitive to mild uncoupling

Biochem Soc Trans. 2003 Dec;31(Pt 6):1300-1. doi: 10.1042/bst0311300.


Mitochondria produce ROS (reactive oxygen species) as a by-product of aerobic respiration. Several studies in mammals and birds suggest that the most physiologically relevant ROS production is from complex I following reverse electron flow, and is highly sensitive to membrane potential. A study of Drosophila mitochondria respiring glycerol 3-phosphate revealed that membrane potential-sensitive ROS production from complex I following reverse electron flow was on the matrix side of the inner membrane. A 10 mV decrease in membrane potential was enough to abolish around 70% of the ROS produced by complex I under these conditions. Another important ROS generator in this model, glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, produced ROS mostly to the cytosolic side; this ROS production was totally insensitive to a small decrease in membrane potential (10 mV). Thus mild uncoupling may be particularly significant for ROS production from complex I on the matrix side of the mitochondrial inner membrane.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species