Present-day drug therapies provide clear beneficial effects as many diseases can be driven into remission and the symptoms of others can be efficiently managed; however, the success of many drugs is limited due to both patient non-compliance and adverse off-target or toxicity-induced effects. There is emerging evidence that many of these side effects are caused by drug-induced impairment of mitochondrial function and eventual mitochondrial dysfunction. It is imperative to understand how and why drug-induced side effects occur and how mitochondrial function is affected. In an aging population, age-associated drug toxicity is another key area of focus as the majority of patients on medication are older. Therefore, with an aging population possessing subtle or even more dramatic individual differences in mitochondrial function, there is a growing necessity to identify and understand early on potentially significant drug-associated off-target effects and toxicity issues. This will not only reduce the number of unwanted side effects linked to mitochondrial toxicity but also identify useful mitochondrial-modulating agents. Mechanistically, many successful drug classes including diabetic treatments, antibiotics, chemotherapies and antiviral agents have been linked to mitochondrial targeted effects. This is a growing area, with research to repurpose current medications affecting mitochondrial function being assessed in cancer, the immune system and neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's disease. Here, we review the effects that pharmacological agents have on mitochondrial function and explore the opportunities from these effects as potential disease treatments. Our focus will be on cancer treatment and immune modulation.
© 2019 The Author(s).