Mitochondria in life, death and diseases


Aleksandra Trifunovic

Cologne Excellence Cluster on Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD), and Institute for Mitochondrial Diseases and Aging, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, D-50931 Cologne, Germany

Mitochondria are essential organelles found in every eukaryotic cell, required to convert food into usable energy. The mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which produces the majority of cellular energy in the form of ATP, is controlled by two distinct genomes: the nuclear and the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). Mutations in mitochondrial genes encoded by either genome could cause mitochondrial disorders, and have emerged as a key factor in a myriad of “common” diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and are strongly linked to the aging process. Despite all this, it is surprising that our understanding of the mechanisms governing the mitochondrial gene expression, its reliance on the complex nature of dual genome control and associated pathologies remain superficial, with therapeutic interventions largely unexplored.

Remarkably, mitochondria are now also viewed as main regulators of signal transduction. Within a last few years, multiple mitochondria-centric signalling mechanisms have been proposed, including release of reactive oxygen species and the scaffolding of signalling complexes on the outer mitochondrial membrane. It has also been shown that mitochondrial dysfunction causes induction of stress responses, bolstering the idea that mitochondria communicate their fitness to the rest of the cell. Studies in this area are not only of basic scientific interest, but may also provide new avenues towards treatment of mitochondrial dysfunction in a variety of human diseases and ageing.

Darko Antic is a hematologist,  Assistant Professor of Internal medicine, Medical faculty University of Belgrade 


His clinical research is focused on thromboembolic disease and cancer, particularly in lymphoma patients as well as in pathogenesis and clinical course of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In 2018 he was the recipient of the prestigious Award of the Medical Faculty University of Belgrade for scientific work.

He has published important articles in the field of lymphoma and thrombosis and about predictive factors in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Darko Antic has had multiple international speaking invitations to speak on the topics of lymphoma and thrombosis and he is a co-author of different guidelines about thromboprophylaxis in cancer patients.

Assistant Professor Dušan Mladenović is a highly accomplished scientist in the field of neurophysiology and pathogenetic mechanisms of hepatic encephalopathy, epilepsy, and diabetic retinopathy.

He graduated from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Medicine in 2004 with the highest average mark and finished his specialistic academic studies in the area of Experimental Physiology and Pathophysiology in 2007. Dr. Mladenović received his Ph.D. degree in the field of Molecular Medicine in 2014 at the same University. Since 2005 he has been working at the Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, the University of Belgrade where he became Assistant Professor in 2015. Dr. Mladenović earned foreign professional training at the Department of Medical Cell Biology, Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany. As an author in 118 publications, among which 47 articles published in extension journals from JCR list in the neurophysiology and hepatology fields, in 2018 he was awarded The yearly award for the best young scientist at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade.