Transition metals are essential to many biological processes in almost all organisms from bacteria to humans. Their versatility, which arises from an ability to undergo reduction-oxidation chemistry, enables them to act as critical cofactors of enzymes throughout the cell. Accumulation of metals, however, can also lead to oxidative stress and cellular damage. The importance of metals to both enzymatic reactions and oxidative stress makes them key players in mitochondria. Mitochondria are the primary energy-generating organelles of the cell that produce ATP through a chain of enzymatic complexes that require transition metals, and are highly sensitive to oxidative damage. Moreover, the heart is one of the most mitochondrially-rich tissues in the body, making metals of particular importance to cardiac function. In this review, we focus on the current knowledge about the role of transition metals (specifically iron, copper, and manganese) in mitochondrial metabolism in the heart. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Focus on Cardiac Metabolism".
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