Mitochondria are the essential site of aerobic energy production in eukaryotic cells. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are an inevitable by-product of mitochondrial metabolism and can cause mitochondrial DNA mutations and dysfunction. Mitochondrial damage can also be the consequence of disease processes. Therefore, maintaining a healthy population of mitochondria is essential to the well-being of cells. Autophagic delivery to lysosomes is the major degradative pathway in mitochondrial turnover, and we use the term mitophagy to refer to mitochondrial degradation by autophagy. Although long assumed to be a random process, increasing evidence indicates that mitophagy is a selective process. This review provides an overview of the process of mitophagy, the possible role of the mitochondrial permeability transition in mitophagy and the importance of mitophagy in turnover of dysfunctional mitochondria. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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