Rapid changes in NADH and flavin autofluorescence in rat cardiac trabeculae reveal large mitochondrial complex II reserve capacity

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The functional properties of cardiac mitochondria in intact preparations have been mainly studied by measurements of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) autofluorescence, which reflects mitochondrial complex I function. To assess complex II function, we extended this method by measuring flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-related autofluorescence in electrically stimulated cardiac trabeculae isolated from the right ventricle from the rat at 27°C. NADH and FAD autofluorescence and tension responses were measured when stimulation frequency was increased from 0.5 Hz to 1, 2 or 3 Hz for 3 min, and thereafter decreased to 0.5 Hz. Maximal complex I and complex II activity in vitro were determined in saponin-permeabilized right ventricular tissue by respirometry. NADH responses upon an increase in stimulation frequency showed a rapid decline, followed by a slow recovery towards the initial level. FAD responses followed a similar time course, but in the opposite direction. The amplitudes of early rapid changes in the NADH and FAD concentration correlated well with the change in tension time integral per second (R2 = 0.833 and 0.660 for NADH and FAD, respectively), but with different slopes for the up and down transient. Maximal velocity of the increase in FAD concentration (16 ± 4 μm s−1), measured upon an increase in stimulation frequency from 0.5 to 3 Hz was considerably smaller than that of the decrease in NADH (78 ± 13 μm s−1). The respiration measurements indicated that the maximal velocity of NADH utilization (143 ± 14 μm s−1) was 2 times smaller than that of FADH2 (291 ± 19 μm s−1). This indicates that in cardiac mitochondria considerable complex II activity reserve is present.

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