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Neurochem Int. 2008 Nov;53(5):126-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2008.07.001. Epub 2008 Jul 9.

Mitochondrial dysfunction in rat brain with aging Involvement of complex I, reactive oxygen species and cardiolipin.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, C.N.R. Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, University of Bari, Via E. Orabona 4, 70126 Bari, Italy.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered a key factor in brain aging process. Mitochondrial respiration is an important site of ROS production and hence a potential contributor to brain functional changes with aging. In this study we examined the effect of aging on complex I activity, oxygen consumption, ROS production and phospholipid composition in rat brain mitochondria. The activity of complex I was reduced by 30% in brain mitochondria from 24 months aged rats relative to young animals. These changes in complex I activity were associated with parallel changes in state 3 respiration. H(2)O(2) generation was significantly increased in mitochondria isolated from aged rats. The mitochondrial content of cardiolipin, a phospholipid required for optimal activity of complex I, decreased by 31% as function of aging, while there was a significant increase in the level of peroxidized cardiolipin. The age-related decrease in complex I activity in brain mitochondria could be reversed by exogenously added cardiolipin. This effect of cardiolipin could not be replaced by other phospholipids. It is proposed that aging causes brain mitochondrial complex I dysfunction which can be attributed to ROS-induced cardiolipin oxidation. These findings may prove useful in elucidating the mechanism underlying mitochondrial dysfunction associated with brain aging.

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