Mitochondrial Structure and Bioenergetics in Normal and Disease Conditions

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 8;22(2):586. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020586.


Mitochondria are ubiquitous intracellular organelles found in almost all eukaryotes and involved in various aspects of cellular life, with a primary role in energy production. The interest in this organelle has grown stronger with the discovery of their link to various pathologies, including cancer, aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Indeed, dysfunctional mitochondria cannot provide the required energy to tissues with a high-energy demand, such as heart, brain and muscles, leading to a large spectrum of clinical phenotypes. Mitochondrial defects are at the origin of a group of clinically heterogeneous pathologies, called mitochondrial diseases, with an incidence of 1 in 5000 live births. Primary mitochondrial diseases are associated with genetic mutations both in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), affecting genes involved in every aspect of the organelle function. As a consequence, it is difficult to find a common cause for mitochondrial diseases and, subsequently, to offer a precise clinical definition of the pathology. Moreover, the complexity of this condition makes it challenging to identify possible therapies or drug targets.

Keywords: ATP production; biogenesis of the respiratory chain; mi-tochondrial electrochemical gradient; mitochondrial disease; mitochondrial potential; mitochondrial proton pumping; mitochondrial respiratory chain; oxidative phosphorylation; respiratory complex; respiratory supercomplex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemistry
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation*
  • Protein Conformation


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Mitochondrial Proteins