Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) is a linear polymer of Pi residues linked together by high-energy phosphoanhydride bonds as in ATP. PolyP is present in all living organisms ranging from bacteria to human and possibly even predating life of this planet. The length of polyP chain can vary from just a few phosphates to several thousand phosphate units long, depending on the organism and the tissue in which it is synthesized. PolyP was extensively studied in prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes by Kulaev's group in the Russian Academy of Sciences and by the Nobel Prize Laureate Arthur Kornberg at Stanford University. Recently, we reported that mitochondria of cardiac ventricular myocytes contain significant amounts (280±60 pmol/mg of protein) of polyP with an average length of 25 Pi and that polyP is involved in Ca2+-dependent activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). Enzymatic polyP depletion prevented Ca2+-induced mPTP opening during ischaemia; however, it did not affect reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated mPTP opening during reperfusion and even enhanced cell death in cardiac myocytes. We found that ROS generation was actually enhanced in polyP-depleted cells demonstrating that polyP protects cardiac myocytes against enhanced ROS formation. Furthermore, polyP concentration was dynamically changed during activation of the mitochondrial respiratory chain and stress conditions such as ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) and heart failure (HF) indicating that polyP is required for the normal heart metabolism. This review discusses the current literature on the roles of polyP in cardiovascular health and disease.

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