Mitochondrial proton leak is an important component of cellular metabolism in animals and may account for as much as one quarter to one third of the Standard Metabolic Rate of the rat. The activity of the proton leak pathway is different in a wide range of animal species and in different thyroid states. Such differences imply some function for proton leak and candidates for this function include thermogenesis, protection against reactive oxygen species, endowment of metabolic sensitivity and maintenance of carbon fluxes.

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