Indexed on: 02 May '17Published on: 02 May '17Published in: Developmental Biology
Mitochondria is not only a dynamic organelle that produces ATP, but is also an important contributor to cell functions in both development and cell death processes. These paradoxical functions of mitochondria are partially regulated by the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), a high-conductance channel that can induce loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, impairment of cellular calcium homeostasis, oxidative stress, and a decrease in ATP production upon pathological activation. Interestingly, despite their different etiologies, several neurodegenerative diseases and heart ischemic injuries share mitochondrial dysfunction as a common element. Generally, mitochondrial impairment is triggered by calcium deregulation that could lead to mPTP opening and cell death. Several studies have shown that opening of the mPTP not only induces mitochondrial damage and cell death, but is also a physiological mechanism involved in different cellular functions. The mPTP participates in regular calcium-release mechanisms that are required for proper metabolic regulation; it is hypothesized that the transient opening of this structure could be the principal mediator of cardiac and brain development. The mPTP also plays a role in protecting against different brain and cardiac disorders in the elderly population. Therefore, the aim of this work was to discuss different studies that show this controversial characteristic of the mPTP; although mPTP is normally associated with several pathological events, new critical findings suggest its importance in mitochondrial function and cell development.