Complex oscillatory redox dynamics with signaling potential at the edge between normal and pathological mitochondrial function

Jackelyn M. Kembro, Sonia Cortassa, Miguel A. Aon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The time-keeping properties bestowed by oscillatory behavior on functional rhythms represent an evolutionarily conserved trait in living systems. Mitochondrial networks function as timekeepers maximizing energetic output while tuning reactive oxygen species (ROS) within physiological levels compatible with signaling. In this work, we explore the potential for timekeeping functions dependent on mitochondrial dynamics with the validated two-compartment mitochondrial energetic-redox (ME-R) computational model, that takes into account (a) four main redox couples [NADH, NADPH, GSH, Trx(SH)2], (b) scavenging systems (glutathione, thioredoxin, SOD, catalase) distributed in matrix and extra-matrix compartments, and (c) transport of ROS species between them. Herein, we describe that the ME-R model can exhibit highly complex oscillatory dynamics in energetic/redox variables and ROS species, consisting of at least five frequencies with modulated amplitudes and period according to power spectral analysis. By stability analysis we describe that the extent of steady state-as against complex oscillatory behavior-was dependent upon the abundance of Mn and Cu, Zn SODs, and their interplay with ROS production in the respiratory chain. Large parametric regions corresponding to oscillatory dynamics of increasingly complex waveforms were obtained at low Cu, Zn SOD concentration as a function of Mn SOD. This oscillatory domain was greatly reduced at higher levels of Cu, Zn SOD. Interestingly, the realm of complex oscillations was located at the edge between normal and pathological mitochondrial energetic behavior, and was characterized by oxidative stress. We conclude that complex oscillatory dynamics could represent a frequency- and amplitude-modulated H2O2 signaling mechanism that arises under intense oxidative stress. By modulating SOD, cells could have evolved an adaptive compromise between relative constancy and the flexibility required under stressful redox/energetic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number00257
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume5 JUL
StatePublished - 2014


  • Complex oscillations
  • Hopf bifurcations
  • Mitochondrial energetic/redox
  • Physiological and pathophysiological behavior
  • ROS signaling
  • Redox environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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