Mitochondrial regulation of cell survival and death during low-oxygen conditions

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009 Nov;11(11):2673-83. doi: 10.1089/ars.2009.2730.


Mitochondria can initiate cell death or activate genes that promote cell survival in response to low oxygen. The BCL-2 family of proteins regulate cell death in response to anoxia (0-0.5% O2). By contrast, under hypoxia (0.5-3% O2), mitochondrial oxidative stress activates hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) to promote cell survival. In this review, we discuss how mitochondria, BCL-2 proteins, and HIFs are crucial for cellular responses to low oxygen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / physiology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2