Mitochondrial Disease and Pesticides

Mitochondria are key factors in the production of energy and they are present in almost every cell of the body. There can be between one and several thousand in a cell. There are higher numbers of mitochondria in the cells of the liver, heart and in muscles than in the cells of other organs because these cells require higher energy levels. The cells use the energy created by the conversion of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in order to perform the required functions and to keep the cells themselves alive.

This energy is generated by the breakdown of food or by the recovery of materials from tissues in the body. The foods are first broken down by the metabolic processes within the body to form molecules that can be used by the cells in the form of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Those molecules are taken into the mitochondria which then combine the ADP with oxygen and inorganic phosphate to form ATP in a process known as oxidative phosphorylation.

Proteins are the basic components of all living things, especially animals, and they form the haemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood, antibodies that form the main defence against disease, many hormones, and the vital enzymes that can change up to 100,000 molecules per second. It is this action that builds the amino acids that form new proteins, hormones and enzymes.

Enzymes in the outer membrane of the mitochondria are involved in adrenaline and serotonin oxidation, and with phospholipid metabolism. (Phospholipids are important parts of cells and consist of fatty acids bonded to glycerol and phosphorus)
The inner membrane is permeable only to oxygen and water but the membranes allow exchange of ATP and ADP, calcium and phosphate ions, and other intermediary products of the Krebs cycle.
The functions of mitochondria are to build, break down, and recycle the materials needed for the cell to function and to enable production of DNA and RNA. Mitochondria are also involved in blood and hormone production and are therefore essential for cholesterol and neurotransmitter metabolism, and for the detoxification of ammonia in the urea cycle.
If mitochondria are damaged energy production and transfer and normal cell functioning will fail.

The mitiochondria are also involved in what is known as "programmed cell death" or "apoptosis". Cell death can be caused by injury (as in toxic exposures or physical damage), or during development and repair processes when unwanted or damaged cells are removed and recycled. Cell death also occurs during infections with viruses, when cancer therapy destroys the weaker cancer cells, and when the immune system responds to illness.
All these processes depend on the proper functioning of the mitochondria.
For more information regarding the mitochondria and cancer click the link off-site to a pdf file here.

Many will have heard of the term "free radicals" and the potential of these chemicals to cause illness. These "free radicals" are created by the mitochondria when excess oxygen consumption or requirement overwhelms the mitochondria's production of ATP. This can occur when the mitochondria are damaged or during abnormal states such as fevers, strokes or cancer. The "free radicals" can damage the mitochondrial DNA and their proteins and membranes and this, as with the loss of the vital ADP/ATP energy transfer process, and the build up of the incorrectly processed food products which may be toxic to the cell, can result in abnormal cell death and the failure of the vital organ to properly function.

Mitochondria are the key players in both causation and cure of cancer. The changes to a normal cell to one which is malignant and the reversal of that process are dependent on the mitochondria as is the removal of the malignant cells. These are all processes that are controlled by the mitochondria.

For more information about mitichondria see

There are numerous causes of mitochondrial damage and, although it would appear that many mitochondrial diseases are inherited, exposure to toxins and viruses are also triggers for damage. (Organophosphorus chemicals have been reported to cause disruption to these vital processes and to damage RNA and DNA). The Mitochondria have their own DNA and almost all of this type of DNA is passed down to the offspring from the mother. Any damage to this DNA can quickly lead to serious problems because there is no mechanism within the mitochondria to ensure that defects are rectified. As a result defective DNA can be reproduced in every cell where the problem has been triggered. This can result in mutations and organ failure.

Studies have shown that mitochondria failure is demonstrated in a wide variety of serious health problems in man and range from muscle weakness, mental problems, strokes, diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and even mood disorders, siezures, and schizophrenia.
Mitochondrial damage has even been reported as linked to social behaviour and in the subjects' loss of awareness of their position in their surroundings. The latter is referred to as "spacial awareness" (a problem reported in those poisoned by organophosphates who have "lost their way" in well-known places).
Mitochondrial damage has also been implicated in myopathy, neuropathy, enlargement of the liver, pancreatitis, cardiomyopathy, and lactate acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles causing fatigue and cramps but for which serious accumulation can eventually lead to death if mitochondrial damage is present). Lactate acidosis can produce symptoms of abdominal complaints, like feeling full, nausea, with a sudden loss of weight, extreme fatigue, and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.

Because of the many forms and severity of the illnesses and organs involved in conditions involving mitochondrial dysfunction it is very difficult to diagnose.
The symptoms vary with the severity of the damage and the organs involved.
Obviously if the brain is involved mental functions will fail and if the muscles are involved then there will be weakness and poor coordination.

Common symptoms include:

poor growth
sensory (vision, hearing) problems
disease of the organ (heart, liver)
respiratory problems.
muscle weakness, poor coordination
reduced mental functions

Compare with the symptoms of organophosphorus poisoning

Mitochondrial disease is long-term and incurable.
Early recognition and treatment can reduce the damage and the resulting disability.
Stressful situations and some medications should also be avoided.
Blood, urine, spinal fluid samples, and if necessary muscle biopsy, may provide doctors with indications of mitochondrial dysfunction.
If the damage is caused by toxins or prescribed drugs the first action in the treatment process is to prevent further intoxication. This may be difficult in environments where toxins are not controlled by the patient or doctors. The only chance of recovery is for the cells to create new mitochondria without any of the induced DNA changes.
There are theoretical supportive treatments which may involve riboflavin (vitamin B2) and L-carnitine, which is thought to increase the reserve capacity of the mitochondria.
Co-Enzyme Q10, also known as Ubiquinone, has also been reported as beneficial.

So what is the link with pesticides?

Already it is seen above that organophosphates have long been known to disrupt this vital energy system in humans. Other properties proven with these chemicals are that they can damage both RNA and DNA, that they can disrupt the vital functions of a variety of enzymes, including those that form proteins. Officials in the UK have also admitted that the OP herbicide glyphosate has been shown to alter the functions of the mitochondria.
For some reason the significance of this property was overlooked by those responsible for protecting human health from the effects of pesticides.

Other pesticides admitted to disrupt the oxidative phosphorylation,or which are toxic to the mitochondria or disrupt their function, include arsenic, bromoxynil, chlordane, chlorpyrifos, cyanide, cyhalothrin, 2,4-D, DDT, dieldrin, dinitro, dinoseb, endosulfan, ethaphos, glyphosate, heptachlor, paraquat, permethrin, rotenone, 1080 and phenoxy compounds.
It is suggested that the newer insecticides, which include fenpyroximate, tebufenpyrad, fenzaquin, pyrimidifen, and pyridaben, may be even more toxic to the mitochondria.

In 2007 a court in the United States of America confirmed that a child suffered autism as the result of vaccinations that made an existing mitochondrial disorder worse.
The numbers of autism cases in the world have grown at an alarming rate in recent years.
In one US State alone it was reported that there were just 4 cases of autism in 1996 and yet there are now over 6,400.
Surely the suffering caused to those children and their families must be reason enough to require a serious study into the links between the use of common pesticides and damage to the mitochondria? Such damage would leave the children susceptible to the further assault from the viruses and preservatives present in the vaccines.

Are we destroying the health of future generations - irreversibly?

Dated 01/04/2008   

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