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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2004 Dec;36(6):545-52.

Protein restriction without strong caloric restriction decreases mitochondrial oxygen radical production and oxidative DNA damage in rat liver.

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Department of Animal Physiology-II, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Complutense University, Madrid, 28040, Spain.


Previous studies have shown that caloric restriction decreases mitochondrial oxygen radical production and oxidative DNA damage in rat organs, which can be linked to the slowing of aging rate induced by this regime. These two characteristics are also typical of long-lived animals. However, it has never been investigated if those decreases are linked to the decrease in the intake of calories themselves or to decreases in specific dietary components. In this study the possible role of the dietary protein was investigated. Using semipurified diets, the ingestion of proteins of Wistar rats was decreased by 40% below that of controls while the other dietary components were ingested at the same level as in animals fed ad libitum. After seven weeks in this regime the liver of the protein restricted animals showed 30-40% decreases in mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and in oxidative damage to nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. The decreases in ROS generation occurred specifically at complex I. They also occurred without changes in mitochondrial oxygen consumption. Instead, there was a decrease in the percent free radical leak (the percentage of total electron flow leading to ROS generation in the respiratory chain). These results are strikingly similar to those previously obtained after 40% caloric restriction in the liver of Wistar rats. Thus, the results suggest that part of the decrease in aging rate induced by caloric restriction can be due to the decreased intake of proteins acting through decreases in mitochondrial ROS production and oxidative DNA damage. Interestingly, these tissue oxidative stress-linked parameters can be lowered by restricting only the intake of dietary protein, probably a more feasible option than caloric restriction for adult humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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