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The Use of Flow Cytometry for Analysis of the Mitochondrial Cell Death

Authors: Pekarčíková Lucie, Knopfová Lucia, Ondroušková Eva, Šmarda Jan

Klinicka onkologie Journal. 2014; 27(Supplementum 1): 15-21. DOI: 10.14735/amko20141S15.


Apoptosis is type I programmed cell death, a process that is essential for development and tissue homeostasis. It is a prevalent form of cell death and it proceeds via two signaling pathways – external (receptor pathway) triggered by death receptors and intrinsic (mitochondrial) apoptotic pathway with major involvement of mitochondria. Mitochondria are important cellular organelles producing energy stored in molecules of adenosine triphosphate that are essential for cell survival. The mitochondrial cell death is characterized by permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane and dissipation of the transmembrane potential. Mitochondria are electronegative organelles and depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane is important for the release of proapoptotic signals. Aberrant control of the mitochondrial cell death might contribute to several diseases including cancer. Mitochondria are also a source of reactive oxygen species, Ca2+ ions and other proteins that aff ect processes important for the initiation and progression of tumors independently of apoptosis. Current studies focus on research of mitochondrial membrane potential and reactive oxygen species modulating various signaling pathways within the cell, their importance in carcinogenesis, and in treatment of oncological patients. Monitoring of the apoptotic markers, such as the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), and the level of reactive oxygen species in samples of oncological patients has a predictive value for the output of treatment protocols.


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