Mitochondria in the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity

Immunity. 2015 Mar 17;42(3):406-17. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2015.02.002.


Mitochondria are well appreciated for their role as biosynthetic and bioenergetic organelles. In the past two decades, mitochondria have emerged as signaling organelles that contribute critical decisions about cell proliferation, death, and differentiation. Mitochondria not only sustain immune cell phenotypes but also are necessary for establishing immune cell phenotype and their function. Mitochondria can rapidly switch from primarily being catabolic organelles generating ATP to anabolic organelles that generate both ATP and building blocks for macromolecule synthesis. This enables them to fulfill appropriate metabolic demands of different immune cells. Mitochondria have multiple mechanisms that allow them to activate signaling pathways in the cytosol including altering in AMP/ATP ratio, the release of ROS and TCA cycle metabolites, as well as the localization of immune regulatory proteins on the outer mitochondrial membrane. In this Review, we discuss the evidence and mechanisms that mitochondrial dependent signaling controls innate and adaptive immune responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / immunology*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Citric Acid Cycle / genetics
  • Citric Acid Cycle / immunology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammasomes / genetics
  • Inflammasomes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / immunology*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / immunology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammasomes
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate