Mitochondria’s Role in Cell Death

The mitochondria are responsible for generating the life currency for all life forms on planet earth, but what might not be as widely known is that the mitochondria are responsible for programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

So, after energy production, the next most important function of the mitochondria is to regulate cell death.

This takes place in the cytochrome C in complex 4, where the mitochondria activate the caspases enzymes to start apoptosis.

This caspases enzyme regulates the programmed breakdown of the cells in an orderly fashion.

Once the caspases enzyme is activated, there is no going back to stop the process.

When the mitochondria become dysfunctional, there may be too much cell death.

This results in neurodegenerative diseases, such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. 

The opposite can also occur when the apoptosis button is silenced and cannot be activated, which results in your cancers.

The cytochrome C is triggered by the depolarization of the inner mitochondrial membrane that releases the free cytochrome C.

This activates the caspases enzymes for programmed cell death or a controlled demolition.

It is important to understand here that the free cytochrome C is controlled by a healthy ratio of estrogen to progesterone.

The P53 (apoptotic) gene’s expression is progesterone-related, whereas the BCL-2 (cancer) gene’s expression is estrogen-related.

Let's keep in mind that copper and estrogen are intimately related.

This is why we always want to have an eye on the mineral copper.

The more biounavailable copper we have, the less cytochrome C we have.

As a result, less apoptosis takes place in the body, which means that there will be more incidents of cancer.

Also, the free cytochrome C that is needed to activate the caspases enzymes is dependent upon the balance of copper and iron along with the ratio of free radicals to antioxidants.

Thus, DHEA is vital to this equation because of its ability to control the oxidizing power of copper.

Of course, this is the abbreviated reader’s digest version of the apoptosis mechanisms, but it should highlight why we focus so much on understanding copper—the mineral of love.

Sign up for a complimentary consultation with me and learn about a custom care plan tailored to your body that involves measuring your copper and iron levels, monitoring your ratio of free radicals to antioxidants, and more.  


Dr. Robert Selig