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α-lipoic acid is named as “nature antioxidant” and “mitochondrial nutrition”. But it is unclear whether α-lipoic acid can be used to protect skeletal muscle with chronic hypoxia exposure, as well as the relative mechanism.


To observe the effect of α-lipoic acid on the antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress in rat skeletal muscle with chronic hypoxia exposure, and to investigate the relative signaling pathway of α-lipoic acid.


Thirty-six Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups: normoxia control group, hypoxia control group, and hypoxia+α-lipoic acid group. Rats in the hypoxia control group were subjected to hypoxia exposure in normobaric hypoxic tent with 11.3% oxygen concentration. Rats in the hypoxia+α-lipoic acid group were induced by adding α-lipoic acid (0.25%) in the normal diet. All the interventions were lasted for 4 weeks.


α-lipoic acid in hypoxia could markedly enhance the mitochondrial Sirtuin-3 expression, improve the mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate synthesis activity and membrane potential, up-regulate the mitochondrial state 3 respiratory rate, respiratory control ratio and ratio of phosphorus to oxygen, down-regulate the mitochondrial state 4 respiratory rate and promote and up-regulate the activity of mitochondrial antioxidant enzymes such as manganese superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase, thus inhibiting mitochondrial H2O2 generation rate and reducing mitochondrial malondialdehyde level. The results indicated that α-lipoic acid could improve the efficiency of energy metabolism of chronic hypoxia skeletal muscle mitochondria and inhibit reactive oxygen generation, and it could inhibit the oxidative stress through improving antioxidant enzyme activity of mitochondria. The protection mechanism of α-lipoic acid on hypoxia skeletal muscle mitochondria may be related to the increasing of mitochondrial state 3 respiratory rate.

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