Introduction Mitochondria supply cellular energy and are key regulators of intrinsic cell death and consequently affect longevity. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is frequently used for lifespan assays. Using paraquat (PQ) as a generator of reactive oxygen species, we here describe its effects on the acceleration of aging and the associated dysfunctions at the level of mitochondria. Methods Nematodes were incubated with various concentrations of paraquat in a heat-stress resistance assay (37°C) using nucleic staining. The most effective concentration was validated under physiological conditions, and chemotaxis was assayed. Mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) was measured using rhodamine 123, and activity of respiratory chain complexes determined using a Clark-type electrode in isolated mitochondria. Energetic metabolites in the form of pyruvate, lactate, and ATP were determined using commercial kits. Mitochondrial integrity and structure was investigated using transmission electron microscopy. Live imaging after staining with fluorescent dyes was used to measure mitochondrial and cytosolic ROS. Expression of longevity- and mitogenesis-related genes were evaluated using qRT-PCR. Results PQ (5 mM) significantly increased ROS formation in nematodes and reduced the chemotaxis, the physiological lifespan, and the survival in assays for heat-stress resistance. The number of fragmented mitochondria significantly increased. The ∆Ψm, the activities of complexes I-IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, and the levels of pyruvate and lactate were significantly reduced, whereas ATP production was not affected. Transcript levels of genetic marker genes, atfs-1, atp-2, skn-1, and sir-2.1, were significantly upregulated after PQ incubation, which implicates a close connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress response. Expression levels of aak-2 and daf-16 were unchanged. Conclusion Using paraquat as a stressor, we here describe the association of oxidative stress, restricted energy metabolism, and reduced stress resistance and longevity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans making it a readily accessible in vivo model for mitochondrial dysfunction.
(1) Background: Polyphenols (PP) play an important role in the prevention of non-communicable diseases and may contribute to healthy aging. To investigate the molecular and cellular aspects of PP metabolites on longevity with a focus on mitochondrial function, we applied a pre-fermented mixture of polyphenols (Rechtsregulat®, RR) to rodents and nematodes. (2) Methods: The lifespans of Navar Medical Research Institute (NMRI) mice and C. elegans were recorded. The heat-stress resistance (37 °C) of C. elegans N2 was measured using nucleic staining. Respiration and membrane potential (ΔΨm) were measured in isolated mitochondria. The energetic metabolites adenosine triphosphate (ATP), lactate, and pyruvate were determined in lysates. Expression levels of longevity related genes were determined using quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Phenolic compounds were identified using ultra high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection-Iontrap-multiple stage mass spectrometry (UHPLC-DAD-Iontrap-MSn). (3) Results: Several phenolic metabolites including protocatechuic acid (PCA) were identified in RR. Feeding of mice with RR resulted in a significantly increased lifespan. Heat-stress resistance (RR *** p = 0.0006; PCA **** p < 0.0001), median lifespan (NMRI: RR ** p = 0.0035; C. elegans RR * p = 0.0279; PCA **** p < 0.0001), and activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes (RR *−** p = 0.0237 − 0.0052; PCA * p = 0.019 − 0.0208) of C. elegans were significantly increased after incubation with RR (10%) or PCA (780 µM). PCA significantly improved nematodes ΔΨm (* p = 0.02058) and ATP levels (* p = 0.029). RR significantly up-regulated lactate levels, indicating enhanced glycolysis. The expression levels of longevity related genes daf-16, sir-2.1, and skn-1 were significantly upregulated after PCA, and partially after RR administration. (4) Conclusion: Phenolic metabolites such as PCA have the potential to enhance health and lifespan and mitochondrial function, and thus may contribute to healthy aging.
Brain aging is one of the major risk factors for the development of several neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in processes of both, brain aging and neurodegeneration. Aged mice including NMRI mice are established model organisms to study physiological and molecular mechanisms of brain aging. However, longitudinal data evaluated in one cohort are rare but are important to understand the aging process of the brain throughout life, especially since pathological changes early in life might pave the way to neurodegeneration in advanced age. To assess the longitudinal course of brain aging, we used a cohort of female NMRI mice and measured brain mitochondrial function, cognitive performance, and molecular markers every 6 months until mice reached the age of 24 months. Furthermore, we measured citrate synthase activity and respiration of isolated brain mitochondria. Mice at the age of three months served as young controls. At six months of age, mitochondria-related genes (complex IV, creb-1, β-AMPK, and Tfam) were significantly elevated. Brain ATP levels were significantly reduced at an age of 18 months while mitochondria respiration was already reduced in middle-aged mice which is in accordance with the monitored impairments in cognitive tests. mRNA expression of genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis (cAMP response element-binding protein 1 (creb-1), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1-α), nuclear respiratory factor-1 (Nrf-1), mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam), growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43), and synaptophysin 1 (SYP1)) and the antioxidative defense system (catalase (Cat) and superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2)) was measured and showed significantly decreased expression patterns in the brain starting at an age of 18 months. BDNF expression reached, a maximum after 6 months. On the basis of longitudinal data, our results demonstrate a close connection between the age-related decline of cognitive performance, energy metabolism, and mitochondrial biogenesis during the physiological brain aging process.
Metabolic flexibility is an essential characteristic of eukaryotic cells in order to adapt to physiological and environmental changes. Especially in mammalian cells, the metabolic switch from mitochondrial respiration to aerobic glycolysis provides flexibility to sustain cellular energy in pathophysiological conditions. For example, attenuation of mitochondrial respiration and/or metabolic shifts to glycolysis result in a metabolic rewiring that provide beneficial effects in neurodegenerative processes. Ferroptosis, a non-apoptotic form of cell death triggered by an impaired redox balance is gaining attention in the field of neurodegeneration. We showed recently that activation of smallconductance calcium-activated K + (SK) channels modulated mitochondrial respiration and protected neuronal cells from oxidative death. Here, we investigated whether SK channel activation with CyPPA induces a glycolytic shift thereby increasing resilience of neuronal cells against ferroptosis, induced by erastin in vitro and in the nematode C. elegans exposed to mitochondrial poisons in vivo. High-resolution respirometry and extracellular flux analysis revealed that CyPPA, a positive modulator of SK channels, slightly reduced mitochondrial complex I activity, while increasing glycolysis and lactate production. Concomitantly, CyPPA rescued the neuronal cells from ferroptosis, while scavenging mitochondrial ROS and inhibiting glycolysis reduced its protection. Furthermore, SK channel activation increased survival of C. elegans challenged with mitochondrial toxins. Our findings shed light on metabolic mechanisms promoted through SK channel activation through mitohormesis, which enhances neuronal resilience against ferroptosis in vitro and promotes longevity in vivo.
BackgroundThe neurodegenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the accumulation of toxic aggregates of β-amyloid in the human brain. On the one hand, hyperhomocysteinemia has been shown to be a risk factor for cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, betaine has been demonstrated to attenuate Alzheimer-like pathological changes induced by homocysteine. It is reasonable to conclude that this is due to triggering the remethylation pathway mediated by betaine-homocysteine-methyltransferase. In the present study, we used the transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans strain CL2006, to test whether betaine is able to reduce β-amyloid-induced paralysis in C. elegans. This model expresses human β-amyloid 1–42 under control of a muscle-specific promoter that leads to progressive, age-dependent paralysis in the nematodes.ResultsBetaine at a concentration of 100 μM was able to reduce homocysteine levels in the presence and absence of 1 mM homocysteine. Simultaneously, betaine both reduced normal paralysis rates in the absence of homocysteine and increased paralysis rates triggered by addition of homocysteine. Knockdown of cystathionine-β-synthase using RNA interference both increased homocysteine levels and paralysis. Additionally, it prevented the reducing effects of betaine on homocysteine levels and paralysis.ConclusionOur studies show that betaine is able to reduce homocysteine levels and β-amyloid-induced toxicity in a C. elegans model for Alzheimer’s disease. This effect is independent of the remethylation pathway but requires the transsulfuration pathway mediated by cystathionine-β-synthase.
Caenorhabditis elegans is widely used for aging studies. 5-Fluoro-2´-deoxyuridine (FUdR) is commonly used to control offspring. While larvae are stopped from further development, also mitochondrial DNA and function may be affected. Since mitochondria and longevity are closely related, the use of FUdR may falsify possible studies. PX627, an auxin inducible infertility strain to control offspring, allows mitochondrial investigations during senescence without FUdR toxicity. Longevity and health parameters were assessed in 2-and 10-day old nematodes wild-type N2 and PX627 treated with FUdR or auxin, respectively. Mitochondrial membrane potential, energetic metabolites and reactive oxygen species levels, were determined. mRNA expression levels of key genes involved were quantified using quantitative real-time PCR. FUdR significantly increased lifespan and health parameters, as well as, mitochondrial function compared to untreated controls and auxin treated PX627. Although a decrease in all parameters could be observed in aged nematodes, this was less severe after FUdR exposure. Glycolysis was significantly up-regulated in aged PX627 compared to N2. Expression levels of daf-16, sir-2.1, aak-2, skn-1, atp-2 and atfs-1 were regulated accordingly. Hence, auxin in PX627 might be a good alternative to control progeny, for mitochondrial-and longevity-related investigations in nematodes.
This in vivo study aimed to test if a diet enriched with 6% walnuts alone or in combination with physical activity supports healthy ageing by changing the oxylipin profile in brain and liver, improving motor function, cognition, and cerebral mitochondrial function. Female NMRI mice were fed a 6% walnut diet starting at an age of 12 months for 24 weeks. One group was additionally maintained in an enriched environment, one group without intervention served as control. After three months, one additional control group of young mice (3 weeks old) was introduced. Motor and cognitive functions were measured using Open Field, Y-Maze, Rotarod and Passive Avoidance tests. Lipid metabolite profiles were determined using RP-LC-ESI(-)-MS/MS in brain and liver tissues of mice. Cerebral mitochondrial function was characterized by the determination of ATP levels, mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial respiration. Expression of genes involved with mito- and neurogenesis, inflammation, and synaptic plasticity were determined using qRT-PCR. A 6% walnut-enriched diet alone improved spatial memory in a Y-Maze alternation test (p < 0.05) in mice. Additional physical enrichment enhanced the significance, although the overall benefit was virtually identical. Instead, physical enrichment improved motor performance in a Rotarod experiment (p* < 0.05) which was unaffected by walnuts alone. Bioactive oxylipins like hydroxy-polyunsaturated fatty acids (OH-PUFA) derived from linoleic acid (LA) were significantly increased in brain (p** < 0.01) and liver (p*** < 0.0001) compared to control mice, while OH-PUFA of α-linolenic acid (ALA) could only be detected in the brains of mice fed with walnuts. In the brain, walnuts combined with physical activity reduced arachidonic acid (ARA)-based oxylipin levels (p < 0.05). Effects of walnut lipids were not linked to mitochondrial function, as ATP production, mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial respiration were unaffected. Furthermore, common markers for synaptic plasticity and neuronal growth, key genes in the regulation of cytoprotective response to oxidative stress and neuronal growth were unaffected. Taken together, walnuts change the oxylipin profile in liver and brain, which could have beneficial effects for healthy ageing, an effect that can be further enhanced with an active lifestyle. Further studies may focus on specific nutrient lipids that potentially provide preventive effects in the brain.
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