The Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Chronic Diseases Essay

The Role of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Chronic Diseases Essay

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The mitochondria are specialized rod-shaped structures (organelles) found in most living cells. Depending on their specialized functions, cells may contain as few as five mitochondria or as much as 2000 of these organelles. They are often called the “powerhouse” of the cell because they convert oxygen and nutrients into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a form of chemical energy, which provides substrate to various metabolic processes within the cell. Only mitochondria can perform this function and when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs, normal cellular activities are disrupted. This may lead to cell death, accelerated aging process and development of chronic disease.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease

A rapidly developing science of mitochondrial medicine reveals that there are many conditions that arise from mitochondrial dysfunction. These mitochondrial cytopathies are due to the mitochondria's inability to completely convert food and oxygen to energy.
According to the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center, which specializes in mitochondrial disease research and treatments, more than 1 in 4,000 children born in the US yearly will develop a mitochondrial disease by the age of 10 years. One example is Leigh's syndrome, which is a severe neurological dirorder that affects infants. Other develop mitochondrial myopathies, which affect the muscles and nerves, before reaching their second decade of life. Among adults, mitochondrial dysfunction is often linked to age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and more.
Research in mitochondrial disease dates back to the 1940s and the first diagnosis of a disorder related to mitochondrial dysfunction was in 1959. Research...

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Finsterer J. Hematological Manifestations of Primary Mitochondrial Disorders. Acta Haematol 2007;118:88–98.

The Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center brochure.

Unlocking a Major Cause of Disease.

Marriage B, Clandinin MT, and Glerum DM.Nutritional cofactor treatment in mitochondrial disorders. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103:1029-1038.

Walters A, Poter G, and Brookes P. Mitochondria as a Drug Target in Ischemic Heart Disease and Cardiomyopathy. Circulation Research. 2012; 111: 1222-1236.

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