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The Power Within: Mitochondria & Immunity! 

Mitochondria can do more than just power our cells. These tiny organelles play a crucial role in our body's innate immune system. Here’s how they work their magic:

  • Triggering Inflammation: Mitochondria retain bacterial motifs from their ancient origins, recognized by innate immune cells to trigger inflammation. This helps in defending against infections and injuries.

  • Macrophage Activation: Mitochondria influence macrophage polarization, determining whether they adopt an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory state. This polarization is vital for responding to pathogens and healing wounds.

  • Energy and Metabolism: During immune responses, mitochondria shift their energy production methods. For instance, inflammatory macrophages reduce oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) and increase glycolysis, producing quick energy and supporting rapid immune action.

  • Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS): Mitochondria generate ROS, which are used by immune cells to kill pathogens. However, these ROS also signal and modulate immune responses, balancing between killing invaders and avoiding excessive inflammation.

  • NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation: Mitochondria are crucial for the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, a key player in inflammation. This activation requires mitochondrial ATP, showcasing the link between mitochondrial function and immune signaling.

Dive into the fascinating world of mitochondrial function and its role in our immune defense!

Marques, E., R. Kramer, and D.G. Ryan, Multifaceted mitochondria in innate immunity. npj Metabolic Health and Disease, 2024. 2(1): p. 6.

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