Mitochondrial ion channels: gatekeepers of life and death

Physiology (Bethesda). 2005 Oct;20:303-15. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00020.2005.


Continuous generation of ATP by mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is essential to maintain function in mechanically active cells such as cardiomyocytes. Emerging evidence indicates that mitochondrial ion channels activated by reactive oxygen species can induce a mitochondrial "critical" state, which can scale to cause electrical and contractile dysfunction of the cardiac cell and, ultimately, the whole heart. Here we focus on how mitochondrial ion channels participate in life-and-death decisions of the cell and discuss the challenges ahead for translating recent findings into novel therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Ion Channels
  • Reactive Oxygen Species