Genetic and functional changes in mitochondria associated with aging

Physiol Rev. 1997 Apr;77(2):425-64. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1997.77.2.425.


This review is devoted to the molecular genetics and bioenergetics of human mitochondria related to the mechanism of aging. Morphological and functional changes of mitochondria associated with age and age-related disease are overviewed with special reference to the changes in enzymes encoded by mitochondrial-inherent genome. The somatically acquired mutations and oxidative damage of the genome, which lead an individual to the fragmentation of mitochondrial DNA, cellular energy crisis, naturally occurring cell death (apoptosis), and tissue degeneration and atrophy, are reviewed with relation to the inherited point mutational genotypes and the deletion types of mitochondrial DNA. Theories of aging are discussed with disclosed evidence relevant to them. Some trials to prevent age-related damage in mitochondria are introduced for the development of what may be called mitochondrial medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation


  • DNA, Mitochondrial