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Exp Gerontol. 2006 Jan;41(1):103-9. Epub 2005 Nov 23.

High-resolution respirometry--a modern tool in aging research.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute for Biomedical Aging Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Rennweg 10, Innsbruck, Austria.

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  • Exp Gerontol. 2006 Apr;41(4):457.


Alterations in mitochondrial function are believed to play a major role in aging processes in many species, including fungi and animals, and increased oxidative stress is considered a major consequence of altered mitochondrial function. In support of this theory, a lot of correlative evidence has been collected, suggesting that changes in mitochondrial DNA accumulate with age in certain tissues. Furthermore, genetic experiments from lower eukaryotic model organisms, indicate a strong correlative link between increased resistance to oxidative stress and an extended lifespan; in addition, limited experimental evidence suggests that the inhibition of mitochondrial function by selected pharmacologically active compounds can extend lifespan in certain species. However, changes in mitochondrial function may affect aging in a different way in various tissues, and a clear statement about the role of mitochondrial deterioration during physiological aging is missing for most if not all species. At this point, respirometric analyses of mitochondrial function provide a tool to study age-associated changes in mitochondrial respiratory chain function and mitochondrial ATP production within living cells and isolated mitochondria. In the recent years, new instruments have been developed, which allow for an unprecedented high-resolution respirometry, which enables us to determine many parameters of mitochondrial function in routine assays using small samples of biological material. It is conceivable that this technology will become an important tool for all those, who are interested in experimentally addressing the mitochondrial theory of aging. In this article, we provide a synopsis of traditional respirometry and the advances of modern high-resolution respirometry, and discuss how future applications of this technology to recently established experimental models in aging research may provide exciting new insights into the role of mitochondria in the aging process.

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