Mitochondria exert age-divergent effects on recovery from spinal cord injury

Andrew N. Stewart, Katelyn E. McFarlane, Hemendra J. Vekaria, William M. Bailey, Stacey A. Slone, Lauren A. Tranthem, Bei Zhang, Samir P. Patel, Patrick G. Sullivan, John C. Gensel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The extent that age-dependent mitochondrial dysfunction drives neurodegeneration is not well understood. This study tested the hypothesis that mitochondria contribute to spinal cord injury (SCI)-induced neurodegeneration in an age-dependent manner by using 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) to uncouple electron transport, thereby increasing cellular respiration and reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. We directly compared the effects of graded DNP doses in 4- and 14-month-old (MO) SCI-mice and found DNP to have increased efficacy in mitochondria isolated from 14-MO animals. In vivo, all DNP doses significantly exacerbated 4-MO SCI neurodegeneration coincident with worsened recovery. In contrast, low DNP doses (1.0-mg/kg/day) improved tissue sparing, reduced ROS-associated 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) accumulation, and improved anatomical and functional recovery in 14-MO SCI-mice. By directly comparing the effects of DNP between ages we demonstrate that mitochondrial contributions to neurodegeneration diverge with age after SCI. Collectively, our data indicate an essential role of mitochondria in age-associated neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113597
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • Bioenergetics
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Uncouplers
  • Mitochondrial oxidative damage
  • Neuroprotection
  • Secondary injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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