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Mech Ageing Dev. 2005 Jun-Jul;126(6-7):813-21. Epub 2005 Apr 8.

Morpho-dynamic changes of mitochondria during ageing of human endothelial cells.

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Kinematic Cell Research Group, JW Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


Mitochondrial morphology is regulated in many cultured eukaryotic cells by fusion and fission of mitochondria. A tightly controlled balance between fission and fusion events is required to ensure normal mitochondrial and cellular functions. During ageing, mitochondria are undergoing significant changes on the functional and morphological level. The effect of ageing on fusion and fission of mitochondria and consequences of altered fission and fusion activity are still unknown although theoretical models on ageing consider the significance of these processes. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) have been established as a cell culture model to follow mitochondrial activity and dysfunction during the ageing process. Mitochondria of old and postmitotic HUVECs showed distinct alterations in overall morphology and fine structure, and furthermore, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. In parallel, a decrease of intact mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was observed. Fission and fusion activity of mitochondria were quantified in living cells. Mitochondria of old HUVECs showed a significant and equal decrease of both fusion and fission activity indicating that these processes are sensitive to ageing and could contribute to the accumulation of damaged mitochondria during ageing.

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