Researchers at the Montpellier Cancer Institute (IRCM) have discovered new ingredients in the blood that have never been found before. Mitochondria are usually found in cells, but the team now finds that they also float on their own in the blood. Mitochondria, often referred to as the cell’s power chamber, are organelles that play a key role in metabolic energy and cell signaling. Sometimes they are found outside the cell, but usually only as fragments inside the platelets.
But after seven years of research, the IRCM team now finds that the plasma’s complete and functional mitochondria are contained in a highly stable structure. Using an electron microscope, the researchers analyzed plasma samples from about 100 people and found that as many as 3.7 million mitochondria were contained in each milliliter of plasma.
The team first discovered the presence of mitochondria in the blood through previous studies that found that mitochondrial DNA in a person’s plasma was 50,000 times higher than other types of DNA. This means that the entire mitochondria circulate through the blood through the internal of a stable protective structure.
“When we consider the absolute number of extracellular mitochondria found in the blood, we have to ask why we have never made this discovery before,” said Alain Thierry, lead researcher on the study. “Our team has built expertise in DNA specificity and sensitivity detection in the blood by studying the fragmentation of extracellular DNA from mitochondrial sources. “
The discovery means that the extra-cell mitochondria must play some biological role. The team hypothesized that this could help induce immune and inflammatory responses and help cells communicate with each other.