Autophagy is characterized by recycling of cellular organelles and can be induced by several stimuli, including nutrient deprivation and oxidative stress. As a major site of free radical production during oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondria are believed to be primary targets of oxidative damage during stress. Our recent study demonstrated that angiotensin II increases cardiac mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, causes a decline of mitochondrial membrane potential in cardiomyocytes and increases cardiac mitochondrial protein oxidative damage and mitochondrial DNA deletions. The deleterious effects of angiotensin II on mitochondria are associated with an increase in autophagosomes and increased signaling of mitochondrial biogenesis, interpreted as an attempt to replenish the damaged mitochondria and restore energy production. Direct evidence for the central role of mitochondrial ROS was investigated by comparing the effect on mice overexpressing catalase targeted to mitochondria (mCAT) and mice overexpressing peroxisomal targeted catalase (pCAT, the natural site of catalase) challenged by angiotensin II or Gαq overexpression. The mCAT, but not pCAT, mice are resistant to cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis and mitochondrial damage, biogenesis and autophagy induced by angiotensin II, as well as heart failure induced by overexpression of Gαq.
Key words: mitochondria, autophagy, reactive oxygen species, catalase, angiotensin II, heart failure