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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 407536, 9 pages
Review Article

The Importance of Mitochondrial DNA in Aging and Cancer

1Center for Healthy Aging, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark
2Department of Cancer Genetics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA

Received 16 November 2010; Accepted 31 January 2011

Academic Editor: Alberto Sanz

Copyright © 2011 Claus Desler et al. 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 premature aging, age-related diseases, and tumor initiation and progression. Alterations of the mitochondrial genome accumulate both in aging tissue and tumors. This paper describes our contemporary view of mechanisms by which alterations of the mitochondrial genome contributes to the development of age- and tumor-related pathological conditions. The mechanisms described encompass altered production of mitochondrial ROS, altered regulation of the nuclear epigenome, affected initiation of apoptosis, and a limiting effect on the production of ribonucleotides and deoxyribonucleotides.