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Neurochem Res. 2005 Jun-Jul;30(6-7):737-52.

Effect of antioxidant diets on mitochondrial gene expression in rat brain during aging.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Sciences, Section of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy.


Age-related increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is particularly detrimental in postmitotic tissues. Calorie restriction (CR) has been shown to exert beneficial effects, consistent with reduced ROS generation by mitochondria. Many antioxidant compounds also mimic such effects. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) provides thiol groups to glutathione and to mitochondrial respiratory chain proteins; thus, it may counteract both ROS generation and effects. In the present study we investigated, in different rat brain areas during aging (6, 12, and 28 months), the effect of 1-year treatment with CR and dietary supplementation with NAC on the expression of subunit 39 kDa and ND-1 (mitochondrial respiratory complex I), subunit IV (complex IV), subunit alpha of F0F1-ATP synthase (complex V) and of adenine nucleotide translocator, isoform 1 (ANT-1). The observed age-related changes of expression were prevented by the dietary treatments. The present study provides further evidence for the critical role of mitochondria in the aging process.

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