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REVIEW: Lipophilic Triphenylphosphonium Cations as Tools in Mitochondrial Bioenergetics and Free Radical Biology

M. F. Ross1, G. F. Kelso2, F. H. Blaikie2, A. M. James1, H. M. Cochemé1, A. Filipovska1, T. Da Ros3, T. R. Hurd1, R. A. J. Smith2, and M. P. Murphy1*

1MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2XY, UK; fax: +44-1223-252905; E-mail: mpm@mrc-dunn.cam.ac.uk

2Department of Chemistry, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

3Pharmaceutical Science Department, Trieste University, 34127 Trieste, Italy

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received September 24, 2004
Lipophilic phosphonium cations were first used to investigate mitochondrial biology by Vladimir Skulachev and colleagues in the late 1960s. Since then, these molecules have become important tools for exploring mitochondrial bioenergetics and free radical biology. Here we review why these molecules are useful in mitochondrial research and outline some of the ways in which they are now being utilized.
KEY WORDS: lipophilic phosphonium cations, mitochondria, membrane potential, oxidative damage, antioxidants