Impact of aging on mitochondrial function in cardiac and skeletal muscle

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Both skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle are subject to marked structural and functional impairment with aging and these changes contribute to the reduced capacity for exercise as we age. Since mitochondria are involved in multiple aspects of cellular homeostasis including energetics, reactive oxygen species signaling, and regulation of intrinsic apoptotic pathways, defects in this organelle are frequently implicated in the deterioration of skeletal and cardiac muscle with aging. On this basis, the purpose of this review is to evaluate the evidence that aging causes dysfunction in mitochondria in striated muscle with a view towards drawing conclusions about the potential of these changes to contribute to the deterioration seen in striated muscle with aging. As will be shown, impairment in respiration and reactive oxygen species emission with aging are highly variable between studies and seem to be largely a consequence of physical inactivity. On the other hand, both skeletal and cardiac muscle mitochondria are more susceptible to permeability transition and this seems a likely cause of the increased recruitment of mitochondrial-mediated pathways of apoptosis seen in striated muscle. The review concludes by examining the role of degeneration of mitochondrial DNA versus impaired mitochondrial quality control mechanisms in the accumulation of mitochondria that are sensitized to permeability transition, whereby the latter mechanism is favored as the most likely cause.

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