Dealing with Stress: Defective Metabolic Adaptation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Pathogenesis

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The mitochondrion is the main site of energy production and a hub of key signaling pathways. It is also central in stress-adaptive response due to its dynamic morphology and ability to interact with other organelles. In response to stress, mitochondria fuse into networks to increase bioenergetic efficiency and protect against oxidative damage. Mitochondrial damage triggers segregation of damaged mitochondria from the mitochondrial network through fission and their proteolytic degradation by mitophagy. Post-translational modifications of the mitochondrial proteome and nuclear cross-talk lead to reprogramming of metabolic gene expression to maintain energy production and redox balance. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by chronic exposure to oxidative stress arising from inhaled irritants, such as cigarette smoke. Impaired mitochondrial structure and function, due to oxidative stress-induced damage, may play a key role in causing COPD. Deregulated metabolic adaptation may contribute to the development and persistence of mitochondrial dysfunction in COPD. We discuss the evidence for deregulated metabolic adaptation and highlight important areas for investigation that will allow the identification of molecular targets for protecting the COPD lung from the effects of dysfunctional mitochondria.

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