Propagation of electromagnetic radiation in mitochondria?
Thar R, Kühl M
Journal of Theoretical Biology (2004)
Category: mitochondria-biogenesis, mitochondria-transport ¤ Added: Aug 27, 2004 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Mitochondria are the main source of ultra-weak chemiluminescence generated by reactive oxygen species, which are continuously formed during the mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Vertebrate cells show typically filamentous mitochondria associated with the microtubules of the cytoskeleton, forming together a continuous network (mitochondrial reticulum). The refractive index of both mitochondria and microtubules is higher than the surrounding cytoplasm, which results that the mitochondrial reticulum can act as an optical waveguide, i.e. electromagnetic radiation can propagate within the network. A detailed analysis of the inner structure of mitochondria shows, that they can be optically modelled as a multi-layer system with alternating indices of refraction. The parameters of this multi-layer system are dependent on the physiologic state of the mitochondria. The effect of the multi-layer system on electromagnetic radiation propagating along the mitochondrial reticulum is analysed by the transfer-matrix method. If induced light emission could take place in mitochondria, the multi-layer system could lead to lasing action like it has been realized in technical distributed feedback laser. Based on former reports about the influence of external illumination on the physiology of mitochondria it is speculated whether there exists some kind of long-range interaction between individual mitochondria mediated by electromagnetic radiation.