The debate continues - What is the role of MCU and mitochondrial calcium uptake in the heart?

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2020 Jun;143:163-174. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2020.04.029. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Since the identification of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) in 2011, several studies utilizing genetic models have attempted to decipher the role of mitochondrial calcium uptake in cardiac physiology. Confounding results in various mutant mouse models have led to an ongoing debate regarding the function of MCU in the heart. In this review, we evaluate and discuss the totality of evidence for mitochondrial calcium uptake in the cardiac stress response and highlight recent reports that implicate MCU in the control of homeostatic cardiac metabolism and function. This review concludes with a discussion of current gaps in knowledge and remaining experiments to define how MCU contributes to contractile function, cell death, metabolic regulation, and heart failure progression.

Keywords: Calcium; Cardiac function; Energetics; Ischemia reperfusion; MCU; MICU1; Mitochondria; NCLX; Permeability transition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / genetics*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Heart / genetics*
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium Channels
  • mitochondrial calcium uniporter
  • Calcium