Cause or casualty: The role of mitochondrial DNA in aging and age-associated disease

E. Sandra Chocron, Erin Munkácsy, Andrew M. Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) represents a tiny fraction of the whole genome, comprising just 16.6 kilobases encoding 37 genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and the mitochondrial translation machinery. Despite its small size, much interest has developed in recent years regarding the role of mtDNA as a determinant of both aging and age-associated diseases. A number of studies have presented compelling evidence for key roles of mtDNA in age-related pathology, although many are correlative rather than demonstrating cause. In this review we will evaluate the evidence supporting and opposing a role for mtDNA in age-associated functional declines and diseases. We provide an overview of mtDNA biology, damage and repair as well as the influence of mitochondrial haplogroups, epigenetics and maternal inheritance in aging and longevity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-297
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Lifespan
  • Mitochondria
  • mtDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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