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Aging Cell. 2006 Apr;5(2):109-17.

Free radical generation by skeletal muscle of adult and old mice: effect of contractile activity.

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Division of Metabolic and Cellular Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverppol L69 3GA, UK.


Oxidative modification of cellular components may contribute to tissue dysfunction during aging. In skeletal muscle, contractile activity increases the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS). The question of whether contraction-induced ROS generation is further increased in skeletal muscle of the elderly is important since this influences recommendations on their exercise participation. Three different approaches were used to examine whether aging influences contraction-induced ROS generation. Hind limb muscles of adult and old mice underwent a 15-min period of isometric contractions and we examined ROS generation by isolated skeletal muscle mitochondria, ROS release into the muscle extracellular fluid using microdialysis techniques, and the muscle glutathione and protein thiol contents. Resting skeletal muscle of old mice compared with adult mice showed increased ROS release from isolated mitochondria, but no changes in the extracellular levels of superoxide, nitric oxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical activity or muscle glutathione and protein thiol contents. Skeletal muscle mitochondria isolated from both adult and old mice after contractile activity showed significant increases in hydrogen peroxide release compared with pre-contraction values. Contractions increased extracellular hydroxyl radical activity in adult and old mice, but had no significant effect on extracellular hydrogen peroxide or nitric oxide in either group. In adult mice only, contractile activity increased the skeletal muscle release of superoxide. A similar decrease in muscle glutathione and protein thiol contents was seen in adult and old mice following contractions. Thus, contractile activity increased skeletal muscle ROS generation in both adult and old mice with no evidence for an age-related exacerbation of ROS generation.

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