The amount of scientific research linking environmental exposures and childhood health outcomes continues to grow; yet few studies have teased out the mechanisms involved in environmentally-induced diseases. Cells can respond to environmental stressors in many ways: inducing oxidative stress/inflammation, changes in energy production and epigenetic alterations. Mitochondria, tiny organelles that each retains their own DNA, are exquisitely sensitive to environmental insults and are thought to be central players in these pathways. While it is intuitive that mitochondria play an important role in disease processes, given that every cell of our body is dependent on energy metabolism, it is less clear how environmental exposures impact mitochondrial mechanisms that may lead to enhanced risk of disease. Many of the effects of the environment are initiated in utero and integrating mitochondriomics into children's environmental health studies is a critical priority. This review will highlight (i) the importance of exploring environmental mitochondriomics in children's environmental health, (ii) why environmental mitochondriomics is well suited to biomarker development in this context, and (iii) how molecular and epigenetic changes in mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) may reflect exposures linked to childhood health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-991
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Asthma
  • Biomarkers
  • Children
  • Copy number
  • Environmental exposure
  • Environmental health
  • Mitochondria
  • Neurodevelopment


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