Hypertension has been described as a condition of premature vascular aging, relative to actual chronological age. In fact, many factors that contribute to the deterioration of vascular function as we age are accelerated and exacerbated in hypertension. Nonetheless, the precise mechanisms that underlie the aged phenotype of arteries from hypertensive patients and animals remain elusive. Classically, the aged phenotype is the buildup of cellular debris and dysfunctional organelles. One means by which this can occur is insufficient degradation and cellular recycling. Mitophagy is the selective catabolism of damaged mitochondria. Mitochondria are organelles that contribute importantly to the determination of cellular age via their production of reactive oxygen species (ROS; Harman's free radical theory of aging). Therefore, the accumulation of dysfunctional and ROS-producing mitochondria could contribute to the acceleration of vascular age in hypertension. This review will address and critically evaluate the current literature on mitophagy in vascular physiology and hypertension.
Keywords: blood pressure; hypertension; mitophagy; premature vascular aging.
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