One of the several possible approaches to address the important issue of mitochondrial damage in aging, wherein cells are overtaken by malfunctioning mitochondria and cause harm to surrounding tissues as a result, is some combination of destroying the damaged mitochondria and replacing them with whole new mitochondria infused into the body. Conveniently, it turns out that cells will of their own initiative take up and adopt new mitochondria introduced into the nearby environment. A number of demonstrations of this process have been carried out in recent years, and here is another one:
In eukaryotic cells, mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a variety of human diseases. Delivery of exogenous functional mitochondria into damaged cells has been proposed as a mechanism of cell transplant and physiological repair for damaged tissue.
We here demonstrated that isolated mitochondria can be transferred into homogeneic and xenogeneic cells by simple co-incubation using genetically labelled mitochondria, and elucidated the mechanism and the effect of direct mitochondrial transfer. Isolated homogeneic mitochondria were transferred into human uterine endometrial gland-derived mesenchymal cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, mitochondrial transfer rescued the mitochondrial respiratory function and improved the cellular viability in mitochondrial DNA-depleted cells and these effects lasted several days.
Finally, we discovered that mitochondrial internalization involves macropinocytosis. In conclusion, these data support direct transfer of exogenous mitochondria as a promising approach for the treatment of various diseases.