Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mitochondrial Malaise
10 November 2017

Mitochondrial Malaise

When you’re low on energy, it’s harder to get anything done properly. The same goes for your cells, which rely on energy made by their mitochondria. Structures in mitochondria called cristae create the conditions needed to make energy. With age our mitochondria stop working so well. So what happens to the cristae? Researchers investigate by cryo ET imaging mouse and fruit fly mitochondria. In flies, young mitochondria had well-formed layers of cristae (top row) but old mitochondria, which didn’t work properly, showed defects from circular cristae (bottom left) to small disconnected cristae (bottom right). In mice however some organs, such as the heart, showed no changes in mitochondria with age, while others, including the liver did. How complex an organism is and how well-protected its organs are both seem to affect how mitochondria age. More research is needed to uncover what happens in one of the most complex organisms: humans.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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