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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012, Article ID 162934, 9 pages
Review Article

Translocator Protein (18 kDa): A Promising Therapeutic Target and Diagnostic Tool for Cardiovascular Diseases

1Cell Metabolism Lab, School of Life Science, Shanghai University, 333 Nan Chen Road, Shanghai 200444, China
2Department of Gastroenterology, Tongji hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200065, China
3Department of Cardiology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200065, China

Received 28 June 2012; Revised 22 October 2012; Accepted 4 November 2012

Academic Editor: Jose Magalhaes

Copyright © 2012 Xiaolong Qi 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.


The translocator protein (18 kDa) (TSPO) is a five transmembrane domain protein in mitochondria, abundantly expressed in a variety of organs and tissues. TSPO contributes to a wide range of biological processes, including cholesterol transportation, mitochondrial membrane potential and respiratory chain regulation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. Recent studies have demonstrated that TSPO might also be involved in the physiological regulation of cardiac chronotropy and inotropy. Accordingly, TSPO ligands play significant roles in protecting the cardiovascular systems under pathological conditions through cardiac electrical activity retention, intracellular calcium maintenance, mitochondrial energy provision, mitochondrial membrane potential equilibrium, and reactive oxygen species inhibition. This paper focuses on the physiological and pathological characteristics of TSPO in the cardiovascular systems and also summarizes the properties of TSPO ligands. TSPO represents a potential therapeutic target and diagnostic tool for cardiovascular diseases including arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, cardiac hypertrophy, atherosclerosis, myocarditis, and large vessel vasculitis.