According to our model fullerene C60 accumulating in mitochondria provides high radical scavenging activity in this subcellular compartment, called by Skulachev the “dirtiest place in the cell” . Another effective antioxidant mechanism is based on mild uncoupling of respiration and phosphorylation. Respiratory chain obtains electrons from NADH and succinate. They are used for harmless four-electron reduction of oxygen. But the transfer of one or two electrons could produce the radicals that are dangerous to cells (such as superoxide or peroxide anions).
The proposed ability of C60 fullerenes to acquire positive charge allows ascribing them to the mitochondrial-targeted compounds. The key role of mitochondria in the cellular regulation makes such “charge-loaded” fullerenes be of great interest along the route for novel classes of drugs development.