Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants in the treatment of disease

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1147:105-11. doi: 10.1196/annals.1427.003.


Mitochondrial oxidative damage is thought to contribute to a wide range of human diseases; therefore, the development of approaches to decrease this damage may have therapeutic potential. Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants that selectively block mitochondrial oxidative damage and prevent some types of cell death have been developed. These compounds contain antioxidant moieties, such as ubiquinone, tocopherol, or nitroxide, that are targeted to mitochondria by covalent attachment to a lipophilic triphenylphosphonium cation. Because of the large mitochondrial membrane potential, the cations are accumulated within the mitochondria inside cells. There, the conjugated antioxidant moiety protects mitochondria from oxidative damage. Here, we outline some of the work done to date on these compounds and how they may be developed as therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants