Mitochondria in human cells function at surprisingly high temperatures

Submitted on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:34

The human body is usually maintained at about 37 °C. For the first time, an international research team has established that mitochondria, the energy producers in cells, operate at a much higher temperature of 50 °C.
“The finding is startling, and we will now have to rethink many of the principles of conventional biochemistry, says Research Director Howard Jacobs from the Universities of Tampere and Helsinki in Finland.

According to Jacobs, the findings should have great importance for understanding how mitochondrial dysfunction impacts human health. They also invite researchers to reconsider how biological systems cope with extreme temperatures and with the wide fluctuations in temperature and nutrition that are common in the natural environment.

Jacobs participated in the study led by the French Pierre Rustin.

“As such, it is natural that mitochondria radiate heat as well as supplying chemical energy, and are hence much hotter than their surroundings,” Jacobs continues.

Howard Jacobs is the director of FinMIT, an Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence at the University of Tampere and works as research director at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki.
He has studied mitochondrial dysfunction for over twenty years and was awarded the European Union’s Descartes Prize in 2014.

Mitochondria Are Physiologically Maintained At Close To 50 C
BioRxiv, http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/133223

For more information, please contact:
Research Director Howard Jacobs, tel. +358 2 9415 9359, howard.jacobs@helsinki.fi