Mitochondrial respiratory states and rates

Erich Gnaiger, Eleonor Åsander Frostner, Johannes Ehinger, Eskil Elmer, Sarah Piel, Liga Zvejniece, MitoEAGLE Task Group

Research output: Other contributionMiscellaneousResearch


As the knowledge base and importance of mitochondrial physiology to human health expands, the necessity for harmonizing the terminology concerning mitochondrial respiratory states and rates has become increasingly apparent. The chemiosmotic theory establishes the mechanism of energy transformation and coupling in oxidative phosphorylation. The unifying concept of the protonmotive force provides the framework for developing a consistent theoretical foundation of mitochondrial physiology and bioenergetics. We follow guidelines of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on terminology in physical chemistry, extended by considerations of open systems and thermodynamics of irreversible processes. The concept-driven constructive terminology incorporates the meaning of each quantity and aligns concepts and symbols with the nomenclature of classical bioenergetics. We endeavour to provide a balanced view of mitochondrial respiratory control and a critical discussion on reporting data of mitochondrial respiration in terms of metabolic flows and fluxes. Uniform standards for evaluation of respiratory states and rates will ultimately contribute to reproducibility between laboratories and thus support the development of databases of mitochondrial respiratory function in species, tissues, and cells. Clarity of concept and consistency of nomenclature facilitate effective transdisciplinary communication, education, and ultimately further discovery.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMitoFit Preprints
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Apr 24

Publication series

NameMitoFit Preprint Arch

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biomedical Laboratory Science/Technology

Free keywords

  • mitochondrial respiratory control
  • coupling control
  • mitochondrial preparations
  • protonmotive force
  • uncoupling
  • oxidative phosphorylation: OXPHOS
  • efficiency
  • electron transfer: ET
  • electron transfer system: ETS
  • proton leak
  • ion leak and slip compensatory state: LEAK
  • residual oxygen consumption: ROX
  • State 2
  • State 3
  • State 4
  • normalization
  • flow
  • flux
  • oxygen: O2


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