French researchers discovered the presence of complete and functional mitochondria in the bloodstream. Ultimately, this discovery may lead to better diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of many diseases, including some cancers.
Our blood consists of red and white blood cells and platelets bathed in a liquid known as plasma. But the blood is also composed of complete and functional mitochondria researchers at the Inserm of the University of Montpellier and the Montpellier Cancer Institute revealed in a study published on January 19 in The Faseb Journal. These organelles play a key role in maintaining the lipid content and good ion concentrations necessary for physiological communication, in supplying the energy needed for blood circulation, in supporting the transport of glucose and insulin and in eliminating potential health risks.
They also have the peculiarity of having their own genome. The genome is transmitted exclusively by the mother and differs from the DNA in the nucleus. Until now, mitochondria have only been found outside cells in special cases, released by platelets into the extracellular space. In the long term, these results, unprecedented in physiology, pave the way for new therapeutic paths.
In the past, research has shown that a healthy person’s blood plasma contains up to 50,000 times more mitochondrial DNA than nuclear DNA. To try to detect and quantify it in the blood, the researchers here had the idea of protecting it in a stable structure. Then they analyzed about 100 blood plasma samples.