Mitochondrial Psychobiology: Foundations and Applications

Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2019 Aug;28:142-151. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.015. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Mitochondrial psychobiology is the study of the interactions between psychological states and the biological processes that take place within mitochondria. It also examines how mitochondrial behavior influence neural, endocrine, and immune systems known to transduce psychological experiences into health outcomes. Unlike traditional biological outcomes and mediators, mitochondria are dynamic and multifunctional living organisms. By leveraging a variety of laboratory tools including omics, scientists can now map mitochondrial behavior at multiple levels of complexity - from isolated molecular markers to dynamic functional and signaling outcomes. Here we discuss current efforts to develop relevant measures of mitochondrial behavior in accessible human tissues, increase their biological specificity by applying precise measurements in defined cell populations, create composite indices reflecting mitochondrial health, and integrate these approaches with psycho-neuro-endocrino-immune outcomes. This systematic inter-disciplinary effort will help move the field of mitochondrial psychobiology towards a predictive science explaining how, and to what extent, mitochondria contribute to the biological embedding of stress and other psychological states.

Keywords: PBMCs; PNEI; blood; leukocytes; machine learning; mind-body; mitochondria; predictive modeling; psychoneuroendocrinology; psychosomatic medicine; stress; translational.