Aging and caloric restriction affect mitochondrial respiration and lipid membrane status: An electron paramagnetic resonance investigation

S. Prasad Gabbita, D. Allan Butterfield, Kenneth Hensley, Wendy Shaw, John M. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are likely involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease (AD). ROS, generated by succinate-stimulated mitochondria, have been reported to be spin trapped and detected by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). Our aim in the current study was to study the impact of aging on the effect of increased metabolic stimuli on mitochondrial respiration in terms of oxy-radical generation and possible lipid peroxidative changes in brain neocortical membranes. A mixed population of brain synaptosomes and mitochondria from brown norway male rats of differing ages being fed either ad lib (AL) or a caloric-restricted diet (DR) was prepared and labeled with 5-nitroxyl stearate (5-NS), a membrane lipid- specific spin label. The changes in anisotropic motion of the intercalated 5- NS spin probe also allows one to evaluate the status of the membrane fluidity in the lipid microenvironment via the order parameter. Upon succinate stimulation of mitochondria, the ROS generated resulted in a decrease in the EPR signal amplitude of the 5-NS reporter molecule indicative of the flux of oxy-radicals produced and possible peroxidation-induced changes in the synaptosomal lipid membrane. The line width remained constant, indicating that the overall intensity was reduced. The results showed a significant overall age effect in the ability to generate oxygen-derived radicals following metabolic stimulation (p < .0001). Stimulation of state 4 mitochondrial respiration with 20 mM succinate resulted in greater oxy- radical production in 25-month-old animals as compared to younger animals, suggesting increased mitochondrial leakage with age. Free radical stress induced by metabolic stimulation also causes a concomitant increase in membrane fluidity (p < .0001). There was also a significant age effect (p < .0007) on the order parameter of the mixed population of membranes. Although caloric restriction attenuated the membrane rigidization caused by aging, it was not found to play a role in limiting the oxy-radical production following metabolic stimulation of mitochondria. The overall effect of age on membrane spin-label intensities EPR signal upon succinate stimulation suggests that progressive mitochondrial dysfunction may be a key factor in the aging process and in development of age-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr R. J. Kryscio, Professor of Statistics at the University of Kentucky for assistance in performing all statistical analyses. This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AG-10836, AG-05119).


  • 5-Nitroxyl stearate
  • Aging
  • Brain mitochondria
  • Caloric restriction
  • Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR)
  • Membrane fluidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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