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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 Sep;23(7):758-67. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Age-related decline in mitochondrial bioenergetics: does supercomplex destabilization determine lower oxidative capacity and higher superoxide production?

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  • 1Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Mitochondrial decay plays a central role in the aging process. Although certainly multifactorial in nature, defective operation of the electron transport chain (ETC) constitutes a key mechanism involved in the age-associated loss of mitochondrial energy metabolism. Primarily, mitochondrial dysfunction affects the aging animal by limiting bioenergetic reserve capacity and/or increasing oxidative stress via enhanced electron leakage from the ETC. Even though the important aging characteristics of mitochondrial decay are known, the molecular events underlying inefficient electron flux that ultimately leads to higher superoxide appearance and impaired respiration are not completely understood. This review focuses on the potential role(s) that age-associated destabilization of the macromolecular organization of the ETC (i.e. supercomplexes) may be important for development of the mitochondrial aging phenotype, particularly in post-mitotic tissues.

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