The role of the mitochondria in mediating cytotoxicity of anti-cancer therapies

Dao M. Nguyen, Mustafa Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Optimal cytotoxic anticancer therapy, at the cellular level, requires effective and selective induction of cell death to achieve a net reduction of biomass of malignant tissues. Standard cytotoxic chemotherapeutics have been developed based on the observations that mitotically active cancer cells are more susceptible than quiescent normal cells to chromosomal, microtubular or metabolic poisons. More recent development of molecularly targeted drugs for cancer focuses on exploiting biological differentials between normal and transformed cells for selective eradication of cancers. The common thread of "standard" and "novel" cytotoxic drugs is their ability to activate the apoptosis-inducing machinery mediated by mitochondria, also known as the intrinsic death signaling cascade. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the role of the mitochondria, an energy-generating organelle essential for life, in mediating death when properly activated by cytotoxic stresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apo2L/TRAIL
  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl2 superfamily
  • Cancer
  • Caspase
  • Chemotherapy
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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