Regulation of cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart

Mol Cell Biochem. 1996 Jun 21;159(2):139-48. doi: 10.1007/BF00420916.


Cardiolipin is one of the principle phospholipids in the mammalian heart comprising as much as 15-20% of the entire phospholipid phosphorus mass of that organ. Cardiolipin is localized primarily in the mitochondria and appears to be essential for the function of several enzymes of oxidative phosphorylation. Thus, cardiolipin is essential for production of energy for the heart to beat. Cardiac cardiolipin is synthesized via the cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol pathway. The properties of the four enzymes of the cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol pathway have been characterized in the heart. The rate-limiting step of this pathway is catalyzed by the phosphatidic acid: cytidine-5'-triphosphate cytidylyltransferase. Several regulatory mechanisms that govern cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart have been uncovered. Current evidence suggests that cardiolipin biosynthesis is regulated by the energy status (adenosine-5'-triphosphate and cytidine-5'-triphosphate level) of the heart. Thyroid hormone and unsaturated fatty acids may regulate cardiolipin biosynthesis at the level of three key enzymes of the cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol pathway, phosphatidylglycerol phosphate synthase, phosphatidyl-glycerolphosphate phosphatase and cardiolipin synthase. Newly synthesized phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylglycerol may be preferentially utilized for cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart. In addition, separate pools of phosphatidylglycerol, including an exogenous (extra-mitochondrial) pool not derived from de novo phosphatidylglycerol biosynthesis, may be utilized for cardiac cardiolipin biosynthesis. In several mammalian tissues a significant number of studies on polyglycerophospholipid biosynthesis have been documented, including detailed studies in the lung and liver. However, in spite of the important role of cardiolipin in the maintenance of mitochondrial function and membrane integrity, studies on the control of cardiolipin biosynthesis in the mammalian heart have been largely neglected. The purpose of this review will be to briefly discuss cardiolipin and cardiolipin biosynthesis in some selected model systems and focus primarily on current studies involving the regulation of cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiolipins / biosynthesis*
  • Cytosine Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylglycerols / metabolism
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Transferases (Other Substituted Phosphate Groups) / metabolism


  • Cardiolipins
  • Cytosine Nucleotides
  • Hormones
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • phosphatidate cytidylyltransferase
  • Transferases (Other Substituted Phosphate Groups)
  • cardiolipin synthetase
  • CDP-diacylglycerol-glycerol-3-phosphate 3-phosphatidyltransferase
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • phosphatidylglycerophosphatase