The cardiolipin-cytochrome c interaction and the mitochondrial regulation of apoptosis

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2004 Mar 1;423(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/


While many studies have focused on cytochrome c release from mitochondria, little attention has been given to the specific interaction between cardiolipin (CL) and cytochrome c, the breaching of which likely represents a critical event in the initiation of mitochondrially mediated apoptosis. Mounting evidence suggests that a decrease in the level of CL affects cytochrome c binding to the inner membrane, thus leading to higher levels of soluble cytochrome c in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. Among the factors known to affect CL levels are thyroid status, plasma concentrations of free fatty acids, Ca2+ dysregulation, and reactive oxygen species (ROS). These factors, especially Ca2+ and ROS, have long been recognized as triggers of cell death and, more recently, as modulators of mitochondrially mediated apoptosis. In this review, we discuss the significance of the disruption of the CL-cytochrome c interaction for cytochrome c release and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism*
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Palmitates / metabolism


  • Cardiolipins
  • Palmitates
  • Cytochromes c