This review discusses the potential mechanistic role of abnormally elevated mitochondrial proton leak and mitochondrial bioenergetic dysfunction in the pathogenesis of neonatal brain and lung injuries associated with premature birth. Providing supporting evidence, we hypothesized that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to postnatal alveolar developmental arrest in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and cerebral myelination failure in diffuse white matter injury (WMI). This review also analyzes data on mitochondrial dysfunction triggered by activation of mitochondrial permeability transition pore(s) (mPTP) during the evolution of perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. While the still cryptic molecular identity of mPTP continues to be a subject for extensive basic science research efforts, the translational significance of mitochondrial proton leak received less scientific attention, especially in diseases of the developing organs. This review is focused on the potential mechanistic relevance of mPTP and mitochondrial dysfunction to neonatal diseases driven by developmental failure of organ maturation or by acute ischemia-reperfusion insult during development.
- Proton leak