Humanin: a harbinger of mitochondrial-derived peptides?

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May;24(5):222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.01.005. Epub 2013 Feb 8.


Mitochondria have been largely considered as 'end-function' organelles, servicing the cell by producing energy and regulating cell death in response to complex signals. Being cellular entities with vital roles, mitochondria communicate back to the cell and actively engage in determining major cellular policies. These signals, collectively referred to as retrograde signals, are encoded in the nuclear genome or are secondary products of mitochondrial metabolism. Here, we discuss humanin, the first small peptide of a putative set of mitochondrial-derived peptides (MDPs), which exhibits strong cytoprotective actions against various stress and disease models. The study of humanin and other mitochondrial-derived retrograde signal peptides will aid in the identification of genes and peptides with therapeutic and diagnostic potential in treating human diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / blood
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Retroelements
  • Signal Transduction*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Retroelements
  • humanin