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FASEB J. 2001 Feb;15(2):322-32.

Mitochondrial DNA deletion mutations colocalize with segmental electron transport system abnormalities, muscle fiber atrophy, fiber splitting, and oxidative damage in sarcopenia.

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Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The in vivo cellular impact of age-associated mitochondrial DNA mutations is unknown. We hypothesized that mitochondrial DNA deletion mutations contribute to the fiber atrophy and loss that cause sarcopenia, the age-related decline of muscle mass and function. We examined 82,713 rectus femoris muscle fibers from Fischer 344 x Brown Norway F1 hybrid rats of ages 5, 18, and 38 months through 1000 microns by serial cryosectioning and histochemical staining for cytochrome c oxidase and succinate dehydrogenase. Between 5 and 38 months of age, the rectus femoris muscle in the hybrid rat demonstrated a 33% decrease in mass concomitant with a 30% decrease in total fibers at the muscle mid-belly. We observed significant increases in the number of mitochondrial abnormalities with age from 289 +/- 8 ETS abnormal fibers in the entire 5-month-old rectus femoris to 1094 +/- 126 in the 38-month-old as calculated from the volume density of these abnormalities. Segmental mitochondrial abnormalities contained mitochondrial DNA deletion mutations as revealed by laser capture microdissection and whole mitochondrial genome amplification. Muscle fibers harboring mitochondrial deletions often displayed atrophy, splitting and increased steady-state levels of oxidative nucleic damage. These data suggest a causal role for age-associated mitochondrial DNA deletion mutations in sarcopenia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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