Cardiolipin: biosynthesis, remodeling and trafficking in the heart and mammalian cells (Review)

Int J Mol Med. 1998 Jan;1(1):33-41. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.1.1.33.


Cardiolipin is the principal polyglycerophospholipid found in the heart and most mammalian tissues. This phospholipid is the only phospholipid localized exclusively to the mitochondria of mammalian cells. Cardiolipin appears to be involved, either directly or indirectly, in the modulation of a number of cellular processes including the activation of mitochondrial enzymes and hence production of energy by oxidative phosphorylation. The regulatory properties which govern cardiolipin biosynthesis, its remodeling and trafficking are beginning to emerge. Studies in the isolated perfused rat heart and H9c2 cardiac myoblast cells have indicated that the rate-limiting step of cardiolipin biosynthesis, via the cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol pathway, is the conversion of phosphatidic acid and cytidine-5'-triphosphate to cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol. The cellular level of cytidine-5'-triphosphate appears to control the production of cardiolipin in H9c2 cells. The activities of the other enzymes of the cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol pathway of cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart may be modulated by thyroid hormone and unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, extra-mitochondrial cytidine-5'-diphosphate-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol and phosphatidylglycerol may be utilized for cardiolipin biosynthesis in the heart and permeabilized cells. Cardiolipin may be readily hydrolyzed by phospholipases and may be remodeled by a deacylation-reacylation pathway. Studies with a Chinese hamster lung fibroblast cell line CCL16-B2 have indicated that the remodeling of cardiolipin is markedly altered in the mitochondria of these cells and that this alteration in remodeling may be one of the underlying mechanisms for the mutation in oxidative energy production in these cells. Host cell cardiolipin may be trafficked from the mitochondria to an intracellular bacterial parasite Chlamydia trachomatis. The purpose of this review is to briefly discuss some of the more recent findings in cardiolipin metabolism in the heart and mammalian cells and to provide insight into their possible implications in the regulation of some cellular functions in mammalian tissues and cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cardiolipins / biosynthesis
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism*
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Subcellular Fractions


  • Cardiolipins