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REVIEW: The Phenoptosis Problem: What Is Causing the Death of an Organism? Lessons from Acute Kidney Injury

D. B. Zorov1,2*, E. Y. Plotnikov1,2, S. S. Jankauskas2,3, N. K. Isaev1,2, D. N. Silachev1,2, L. D. Zorova2,4, I. B. Pevzner2,3, N. V. Pulkova2,3, S. D. Zorov2,3, and M. A. Morosanova2,3

1Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia; fax: (495) 939-0338; E-mail: zorov@genebee.msu.su

2Institute of Mitoengineering, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

3Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

4International Laser Center, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 26, 2012; Revision received March 30, 2012
Programmed execution of various cells and intracellular structures is hypothesized to be not the only example of elimination of biological systems – the general mechanism can also involve programmed execution of organs and organisms. Modern rating of programmed cell death mechanisms includes 13 mechanistic types. As for some types, the mechanism of actuation and manifestation of cell execution has been basically elucidated, while the causes and intermediate steps of the process of fatal failure of organs and organisms remain unknown. The analysis of deaths resulting from a sudden heart arrest or multiple organ failure and other acute and chronic pathologies leads to the conclusion of a special role of mitochondria and oxidative stress activating the immune system. Possible mechanisms of mitochondria-mediated induction of the signaling cascades involved in organ failure and death of the organism are discussed. These mechanisms include generation of reactive oxygen species and damage-associated molecular patterns in mitochondria. Some examples of renal failure-induced deaths are presented with mechanisms and settings determined by some hypothetical super system rather than by the kidneys themselves. This system plays the key role in the process of physiological senescence and termination of an organism. The facts presented suggest that it is the immune system involved in mitochondrial signaling that can act as the system responsible for the organism’s death.
KEY WORDS: sudden death, multiple organ failure, apoptosis, kidney, mitochondria, antioxidant

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297912070073