High levels of mitochondrial DNA deletions in skeletal muscle of old rhesus monkeys

Steven R. Schwarze, Connie M. Lee, Susan S. Chung, Ellen B. Roecker, Richard Weindruch, Judd M. Aiken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions increase in abundance with age in many tissues, however, their calculated low levels (usually < 0.1%) in samples from tissue homogenates containing thousands of cells argue against physiologic significance. Through the analysis of defined numbers of cells (skeletal muscle fibers) from rhesus monkeys, we report that the calculated abundance of specific mtDNA deletions is dependent upon the number of fibers analyzed: as the number of fibers decreases, the calculated deletion abundance increases. Also, most mtDNA deletions appear to occur in a mosaic pattern, varying from cell to cell in size, number and abundance. These data support the hypothesis that mtDNA deletions can focally accumulate to high levels contributing to declines in mass and function of aging skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 7 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Richard Moss lab for assistance with the fiber bundle dissections, the members of our lab for helpful discussion throughout the course of this work and Drs. Debbie McKenzie, Mike Strand and Greg Cartee for criticism of the manuscript. Supported by NIH grant PO1 AGl1915 (to RW and JMA). This


  • Deletions
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Muscle
  • Quantitation
  • Rhesus monkeys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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