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Mech Ageing Dev. 1997 Nov;98(2):95-111.

Sites and mechanisms responsible for the low rate of free radical production of heart mitochondria in the long-lived pigeon.

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Department of Animal Biology-II (Animal Physiology) Faculty of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.


Basal (substrate alone) and maximum rates of H2O2 production, oxygen consumption and free radical leak in the respiratory chain were higher in heart mitochondria of the short-lived rat (4 years) than in the long-lived pigeon (35 years). This suggests that the low free radical production of pigeon heart mitochondria is due in part to both a low electron flow and a low percent leak of electrons out of sequence in the respiratory chain. Thenoyltrifluoroacetone did not increase H2O2 production with succinate either in rats or pigeons. Mitochondrial H2O2 production was higher with pyruvate/malate than with succinate in both animal species. Rotenone and antimycin A increased H2O2 production with pyruvate/malate to the maximum levels observed in each species. Addition of myxothiazol to antimycin A-treated mitochondria supplemented with pyruvate/malate decreased H2O2 production in both species. All the combinations of inhibitors added with pyruvate/malate resulted in higher rates of H2O2 production in rats than in pigeons. When succinate instead of pyruvate/malate was used as substrate, rotenone and thenoyltrifluoroacetone decreased mitochondrial H2O2 production in the rat and did not change it in the pigeon. The results indicate that Complexes I and III are the main H2O2 generators of heart mitochondria in rats and pigeons and that both Complexes are responsible for the low H2O2 production of the bird. p-Chloromercuribenzoate and ethoxyformic anhydride strongly inhibited the H2O2 production induced by rotenone with pyruvate/malate in both species. This suggests that the free radical generator of Complex I is located after the ferricyanide reduction site, between the ethoxyformic and the rotenone-sensitive sites.

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