Mitochondria in innate immune responses

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Jun;11(6):389-402. doi: 10.1038/nri2975. Epub 2011 May 20.


The innate immune system has a key role in the mammalian immune response. Recent research has demonstrated that mitochondria participate in a broad range of innate immune pathways, functioning as signalling platforms and contributing to effector responses. In addition to regulating antiviral signalling, mounting evidence suggests that mitochondria facilitate antibacterial immunity by generating reactive oxygen species and contribute to innate immune activation following cellular damage and stress. Therefore, in addition to their well-appreciated roles in cellular metabolism and programmed cell death, mitochondria appear to function as centrally positioned hubs in the innate immune system. Here, we review the emerging knowledge about the roles of mitochondria in innate immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Mitochondria / immunology*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / immunology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / immunology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / virology


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species