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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 156020, 12 pages
Review Article

Mitochondrial Stress Signaling Promotes Cellular Adaptations

Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

Received 16 August 2013; Accepted 11 November 2013; Published 22 January 2014

Academic Editor: Salvatore Pepe

Copyright © 2014 Jayne Alexandra Barbour and Nigel Turner. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the aetiology of many complex diseases, as well as the ageing process. Much of the research on mitochondrial dysfunction has focused on how mitochondrial damage may potentiate pathological phenotypes. The purpose of this review is to draw attention to the less well-studied mechanisms by which the cell adapts to mitochondrial perturbations. This involves communication of stress to the cell and successful induction of quality control responses, which include mitophagy, unfolded protein response, upregulation of antioxidant and DNA repair enzymes, morphological changes, and if all else fails apoptosis. The mitochondrion is an inherently stressful environment and we speculate that dysregulation of stress signaling or an inability to switch on these adaptations during times of mitochondrial stress may underpin mitochondrial dysfunction and hence amount to pathological states over time.