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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Jan;1762(1):103-9. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Age-related alterations in expression of apoptosis regulatory proteins and heat shock proteins in rat skeletal muscle.

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Department of Pharmacology, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, College of Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Aging of skeletal muscle is often accompanied by muscle atrophy and it appears that apoptosis plays an important role in this process. The detailed mechanism(s) is not completely understood, however. In this study, we examined expression of the apoptosis regulatory proteins as well as the heat shock proteins, which have been shown to modulate the apoptotic process in certain cell types, in order to more completely elucidate apoptotic signaling in aged skeletal muscle. To more specifically identify alterations that are likely to be the result of aging, we compared 16-month-old middle-aged (MD) and 29-month-old senescent (SE) male Fischer 344 x Brown Norway rats in our study. Our results show that the degree of DNA laddering was higher in SE compared to MD rats. Using total tissue homogenates we examined the level of expression of several apoptosis-related proteins in two categories: mitochondria-associated proteins and caspases. Of the mitochondria-associated proteins, the levels of p53 showed a significant increase in SE compared to MD rats. There was also a significant increase in the expression of Bax, Bcl-2 and Apaf-1 in SE rats over that of MD rats; cytochrome c and AIF levels remained unchanged, however. Regarding the caspases, there were increases in the levels of pro-caspases-12 and -7 and cleaved caspase-9, although the levels of pro- and cleaved caspase-3 as well as cleaved caspase-12 remained unchanged. Furthermore, our results showed significant increases in HSP27, HSP60, and the inducible HSP70. These data show that in rat skeletal muscle increased apoptosis occurs between middle-age and senescence, indicating an aging-related increase in apoptosis in skeletal muscle. The involvement of different apoptotic pathways in the aging process is suggested by the selective alterations in the apoptosis regulatory proteins. The increased expression of the HSPs suggests a relationship between HSPs and the aging-related apoptotic process.

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