Changes in mitochondrial bioenergetics in the brain versus spinal cord become more apparent with age

Heather M. Yonutas, Jignesh D. Pandya, Patrick G. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The cell is known to be the most basic unit of life. However, this basic unit of life is dependent on the proper function of many intracellular organelles to thrive. One specific organelle that has vast implications on the overall health of the cell and cellular viability is the mitochondrion. These cellular power plants generate the energy currency necessary for cells to maintain homeostasis and function properly. Additionally, when mitochondria become dysfunctional, they can orchestrate the cell to undergo cell-death. Therefore, it is important to understand what insults can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in order to promote cell health and increase cellular viability. After years of research, is has become increasingly accepted that age has a negative effect on mitochondrial bioenergetics. In support of this, we have found decreased mitochondrial bioenergetics with increased age in Sprague-Dawley rats. Within this same study we found a 200 to 600 % increase in ROS production in old rats compared to young rats. Additionally, the extent of mitochondrial dysfunction and ROS production seems to be spatially defined affecting the spinal cord to a greater extent than certain regions of the brain. These tissue specific differences in mitochondrial function may be the reason why certain regions of the Central Nervous System, CNS, are disproportionately affected by aging and may play a pivotal role in specific age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Aging
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brain
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore (mPTP)
  • Respiration
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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