Mitochondrial dysfunction as a pathogenic mediator of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Stefan W. Ryter, Ivan O. Rosas, Caroline A. Owen, Fernando J. Martinez, Mary E. Choi, Chun Geun Lee, Jack A. Elias, Augustine M.K. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, remain incompletely understood. Mitochondria are vital cellular organelles crucial for energy generation, the maintenance of cellular metabolism, calcium homeostasis, intracellular signaling, and the regulation of cell death programs. Emerging evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a cardinal role in the initiation and progression of many human diseases, including chronic lung diseases. Upregulation of the autophagy program, a cellular adaptive mechanism for protein and organelle turnover, can occur in response to injury and may have a cell type-specific impact on the progression of disease. The selective autophagy subtype specific for mitochondria (mitophagy), regulated by PINK1 (phosphatase and tensin homolog-induced putative kinase 1), is a cellular response to accumulation of depolarized or injured mitochondria. Autophagy and mitophagy may be associated with either cellular protection or propagation of injury in a cell type-specific manner, and they may also be associated with modulation of cell death pathways. Genetic studies in mouse models have revealed opposing roles for PINK1 and/or mitophagy in the propagation of emphysema and fibrosis, whereas human studies have shown altered regulation of PINK1 in both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. We have also recently identified a role for mitophagy in regulating the cellular necroptosis program, with implications in COPD pathogenesis. Damage-associated molecular patterns released from injured mitochondria and/or necrotic cells may promote proinflammatory and profibrotic responses. In this review, we explore current experimental evidence for mitochondrial dysfunction as a key determinant in the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S266-S272
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Autophagy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Mitophagy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Mitochondrial dysfunction as a pathogenic mediator of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this