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The initial proposal for apoptosis stressed nuclear change (condensation of chromatin) and the intactness of intracellular organelles, including mitochondria, based on light and electron microscopic observations. However, data have accumulated to demonstrate that the opening of megachannels of mitochondrial membranes, resulting in the swelling of the organelles, notably by Ca2+ and free radicals, is the crucial step in the apoptotic processes of the cell. Application of fluorescent dyes to mitochondria, combined with flow cytometry, has made it possible to detect subtle changes in the structure and function of the organelles related to apoptosis. The present article overviews structural aspects of mitochondria related to apoptosis, including the free radical-induced formation of megamitochondria.


T Wakabayashi, J H Spodnik. Structural changes of mitochondria during free radical-induced apoptosis. Folia morphologica. 2000;59(2):61-75

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PMID: 10859878

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