Age-dependent mitochondrial energy dynamics in the mice heart: Role of superoxide dismutase-2

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The aging process alters cardiac physiology, decreases the number of cardiomyocytes and alters the energy metabolism. Mitochondrial dysfunction in aging is believed to cause these functional and phenotypic changes in the heart. Although precise understanding of alterations of mitochondrial respiration in aging is necessary to manage heart diseases in the elderly population conflicting data on the function of specific complex of electron transport chain of the heart mitochondria limits the intervention process. We have addressed these issues using the assay of mitochondrial coupling and electron flow to assess specific functional defects in mitochondria isolated from young or aged mice. Our results demonstrate that cardiac mitochondria from older mice utilize oxygen at a decreased rate via complex I, II or IV compared to younger mice. We further show that mitochondrial function decreases in young Sod2+/− mice heart compared to young wildtype mice. However, the mitochondrial function remains unchanged in older Sod2+/− mice heart compared to younger Sod2+/− mice heart. Further, the oxygen consumption remains similar in old wildtype mice and old Sod2+/− mice heart mitochondria. The expression and activity of Sod2 in young or old Sod2+/− mice heart remain unchanged. These data demonstrate that decreased oxygen utilization in older age could have resulted in decreased mitochondrial ROS-mediated oxidative damage requiring less Sod2 for protection against mitochondrial oxidative stress in older wildtype or older Sod2+/− mice.

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