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Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Jul 15;31(2):181-90.

Measurements of protein carbonyls, ortho- and meta-tyrosine and oxidative phosphorylation complex activity in mitochondria from young and old rats.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

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  • Free Radic Biol Med 2001 Aug 15;31(4):559.


Mitochondrial bioenergetic function is often reported to decline with age and the accumulation of oxidative damage is thought to contribute. However, there are considerable uncertainties about the amount and significance of mitochondrial oxidative damage in aging. We hypothesized that, as radical production in mitochondria is greater than the rest of the cell, protein oxidative damage should accumulate more in mitochondria than the cytoplasm, and that this relative accumulation should increase with age. To test these hypotheses we measured the accumulation of three markers of protein oxidative damage in liver, brain, and heart from young and old rats. Ortho- and meta-tyrosine levels in protein hydrolysates were measured by a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry assay, and protein carbonyl content was determined by ELISA. Using these assays we found no evidence for increased protein oxidative damage in mitochondria relative to the cytosol. Most increases found in protein oxidative damage on aging were modest for all three tissues and there was no consistent pattern of increased oxidative damage in mitochondrial proteins on aging. Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation complex activities were also assessed revealing 39-42% decreases in F0F1--ATP synthase activity in liver and heart on aging, but not in other oxidative phosphorylation complexes. These findings have implications for the contribution of mitochondrial oxidative damage and dysfunction to aging.

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