Effects of age, dietary, and behavioral enrichment on brain mitochondria in a canine model of human aging

E. Head, V. N. Nukala, K. A. Fenoglio, B. A. Muggenburg, C. W. Cotman, P. G. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Dogs develop cognitive decline and a progressive accumulation of oxidative damage. In a previous longitudinal study, we demonstrated that aged dogs treated with either an antioxidant diet or with behavioral enrichment show cognitive improvement. The antioxidant diet included cellular antioxidants (vitamins E and C, fruits and vegetables) and mitochondrial cofactors (lipoic acid and carnitine). Behavioral enrichment consisted of physical exercise, social enrichment, and cognitive training. We hypothesized that the antioxidant treatment improved neuronal function through increased mitochondrial function. Thus, we measured reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and bioenergetics in mitochondria isolated from young, aged, and treated aged animals. Aged canine brain mitochondria show significant increases in ROS production and a reduction in NADH-linked respiration. Mitochondrial function (ROS and NADH-linked respiration) was improved selectively in aged dogs treated with an antioxidant diet. In contrast, behavioral enrichment had no effect on any mitochondrial parameters. These results suggest that an antioxidant diet improves cognition by maintaining mitochondrial homeostasis, which may be an independent molecular pathway not engaged by behavioral enrichment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by funding from the NIH/NIA AG12694 and NS 048191 to P.G.S.


  • Beagle
  • Carbonyls
  • Carnitine
  • Cognitive training
  • Environmental Enrichment
  • Lipoic acid
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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