Mitochondria are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use. Each cell contains hundreds to thousands of mitochondria, which are located in the fluid that surrounds the nucleus (the cytoplasm).

Mitochondria produce energy through a process called oxidative phosphorylation. This process uses oxygen and simple sugars to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cellís main energy source. A set of enzyme complexes, designated as complexes I-V, carry out oxidative phosphorylation within mitochondria.

Source: GHR (NLM/NIH)1

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Each cell in the body contains dozens or even hundreds of mitochondria. Mitochondria produce about 90% of the energy that cells need to function. They differ from other cell components because each contains its own tiny loops of DNA, called mtDNA. The circular mtDNA differs from the well-known long DNA strands that make up the chromosomes contained in the control center, or nucleus, of your cells. Your nuclear DNA comes from both your mother and your father, but mtDNA comes only from your mother.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)2

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  1. Source: GHR (NLM/NIH): primer/ basics/ mtdna
  2. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): 2010/ April/ feature1.htm

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