Role of Cardiolipin in Mitochondrial Function and Dynamics in Health and Disease: Molecular and Pharmacological Aspects

Cells. 2019 Jul 16;8(7):728. doi: 10.3390/cells8070728.


In eukaryotic cells, mitochondria are involved in a large array of metabolic and bioenergetic processes that are vital for cell survival. Phospholipids are the main building blocks of mitochondrial membranes. Cardiolipin (CL) is a unique phospholipid which is localized and synthesized in the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM). It is now widely accepted that CL plays a central role in many reactions and processes involved in mitochondrial function and dynamics. Cardiolipin interacts with and is required for optimal activity of several IMM proteins, including the enzyme complexes of the electron transport chain (ETC) and ATP production and for their organization into supercomplexes. Moreover, CL plays an important role in mitochondrial membrane morphology, stability and dynamics, in mitochondrial biogenesis and protein import, in mitophagy, and in different mitochondrial steps of the apoptotic process. It is conceivable that abnormalities in CL content, composition and level of oxidation may negatively impact mitochondrial function and dynamics, with important implications in a variety of pathophysiological situations and diseases. In this review, we focus on the role played by CL in mitochondrial function and dynamics in health and diseases and on the potential of pharmacological modulation of CL through several agents in attenuating mitochondrial dysfunction.

Keywords: Cardiolipin; mitochondrial structure-function; pharmacological agents; physiopathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Barth Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Cardiolipins / genetics
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Cardiolipins