Mitochondria are widely recognized as a source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in animal cells, where it is assumed that overproduction of ROS leads to an overwhelmed antioxidant system and oxidative stress. In this Commentary, we describe a more nuanced model of mitochondrial ROS metabolism, where integration of ROS production with consumption by the mitochondrial antioxidant pathways may lead to the regulation of ROS levels. Superoxide and hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) are the main ROS formed by mitochondria. However, superoxide, a free radical, is converted to the non-radical, membrane-permeant H 2 O 2 ; consequently, ROS may readily cross cellular compartments. By combining measurements of production and consumption of H 2 O 2 , it can be shown that isolated mitochondria can intrinsically approach a steady-state concentration of H 2 O 2 in the medium. The central hypothesis here is that mitochondria regulate the concentration of H 2 O 2 to a value set by the balance between production and consumption. In this context, the consumers of ROS are not simply a passive safeguard against oxidative stress; instead, they control the established steady-state concentration of H 2 O 2 . By considering the response of rat skeletal muscle mitochondria to high levels of ADP, we demonstrate that H 2 O 2 production by mitochondria is far more sensitive to changes in mitochondrial energetics than is H 2 O 2 consumption; this concept is further extended to evaluate how the muscle mitochondrial H 2 O 2 balance should respond to changes in aerobic work load. We conclude by considering how differences in the ROS consumption pathways may lead to important distinctions amongst tissues, along with briefly examining implications for differing levels of activity, temperature change and metabolic depression.
Naked mole‐rats (NMRs) are mouse‐sized mammals that exhibit an exceptionally long lifespan (>30 vs. <4 years for mice), and resist aging‐related pathologies such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, cancer, and neurodegeneration. However, the mechanisms underlying this exceptional longevity and disease resistance remain poorly understood. The oxidative stress theory of aging posits that (a) senescence results from the accumulation of oxidative damage inflicted by reactive oxygen species (ROS) of mitochondrial origin, and (b) mitochondria of long‐lived species produce less ROS than do mitochondria of short‐lived species. However, comparative studies over the past 28 years have produced equivocal results supporting this latter prediction. We hypothesized that, rather than differences in ROS generation, the capacity of mitochondria to consume ROS might distinguish long‐lived species from short‐lived species. To test this hypothesis, we compared mitochondrial production and consumption of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2; as a proxy of overall ROS metabolism) between NMR and mouse skeletal muscle and heart. We found that the two species had comparable rates of mitochondrial H2O2 generation in both tissues; however, the capacity of mitochondria to consume ROS was markedly greater in NMRs. Specifically, maximal observed consumption rates were approximately two and fivefold greater in NMRs than in mice, for skeletal muscle and heart, respectively. Our results indicate that differences in matrix ROS detoxification capacity between species may contribute to their divergence in lifespan.
Summary The deleterious reactive carbonyls released upon oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in biological membranes are believed to foster cellular aging. Comparative studies in mammals and birds have shown that the susceptibility to peroxidation of membrane lipids peroxidation index (PI) is negatively correlated with longevity. Long‐living marine molluscs are increasingly studied as longevity models, and the presence of different types of lipids in the membranes of these organisms raises questions on the existence of a PI–longevity relationship. We address this question by comparing the longest living metazoan species, the mud clam Arctica islandica (maximum reported longevity = 507 year) to four other sympatric bivalve molluscs greatly differing in longevity (28, 37, 92, and 106 year). We contrasted the acyl and alkenyl chain composition of phospholipids from the mitochondrial membranes of these species. The analysis was reproduced in parallel for a mix of other cell membranes to investigate whether a different PI–longevity relationship would be found. The mitochondrial membrane PI was found to have an exponential decrease with increasing longevity among species and is significantly lower for A. islandica. The PI of other cell membranes showed a linear decrease with increasing longevity among species and was also significantly lower for A. islandica. These results clearly demonstrate that the PI also decreases with increasing longevity in marine bivalves and that it decreases faster in the mitochondrial membrane than in other membranes in general. Furthermore, the particularly low PI values for A. islandica can partly explain this species’ extreme longevity.
Mitochondria are often regarded as a major source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in animal cells, with H2O2 being the predominant ROS released from mitochondria; however, it has been recently demonstrated that energized brain mitochondria may act as stabilizers of H2O2 concentration (Starkov et al. ) based on the balance between production and the consumption of H2O2, the later of which is a function of [H2O2] and follows first order kinetics. Here we test the hypothesis that isolated skeletal muscle mitochondria, from the rat, are able to modulate [H2O2] based upon the interaction between the production of ROS, as superoxide/H2O2, and the H2O2 decomposition capacity. The compartmentalization of detection systems for H2O2 and the intramitochondrial metabolism of H2O2 leads to spacial separation between these two components of the assay system. This results in an underestimation of rates when relying solely on extramitochondrial H2O2 detection. We find that differentiating between these apparent rates found when using extramitochondrial H2O2 detection and the actual rates of metabolism is important to determining the rate constant for H2O2 consumption by mitochondria in kinetic experiments. Using the high rate of ROS production by mitochondria respiring on succinate, we demonstrate that net H2O2 metabolism by mitochondria can approach a stable steady-state of extramitochondrial [H2O2]. Importantly, the rate constant determined by extrapolation of kinetic experiments is similar to the rate constant determined as the [H2O2] approaches a steady state.
SummaryThe observation of an inverse relationship between lifespan and mitochondrial H 2 O 2 production rate would represent strong evidence for the disputed oxidative stress theory of aging. Studies on this subject using invertebrates are surprisingly lacking, despite their significance in both taxonomic richness and biomass. Bivalve mollusks represent an interesting taxonomic group to challenge this relationship. They are exposed to environmental constraints such as microbial H 2 S, anoxia/reoxygenation, and temperature variations known to elicit oxidative stress. Their mitochondrial electron transport system is also connected to an alternative oxidase that might improve their ability to modulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) yield. Here, we compared H 2 O 2 production rates in isolated mantle mitochondria between the longest-living metazoan-the bivalve Arctica islandica-and two taxonomically related species of comparable size.In an attempt to test mechanisms previously proposed to account for a reduction of ROS production in long-lived species, we compared oxygen consumption of isolated mitochondria and enzymatic activity of different complexes of the electron transport system in the two species with the greatest difference in longevity. We found that A. islandica mitochondria produced significantly less H 2 O 2 than those of the two short-lived species in nearly all conditions of mitochondrial respiration tested, including forward, reverse, and convergent electron flow. Alternative oxidase activity does not seem to explain these differences. However, our data suggest that reduced complex I and III activity can contribute to the lower ROS production of A. islandica mitochondria, in accordance with previous studies. We further propose that a lower complex II activity could also be involved.
The mitochondrial oxidative theory of aging has been repeatedly investigated over the past 30 years by comparing the efflux of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from isolated mitochondria of long‐ and short‐lived species using horseradish peroxidase‐based assays. However, a clear consensus regarding the relationship between H2O2 production rates and longevity has not emerged. Concomitantly, novel insights into the mechanisms of reactive oxygen species (ROS) handling by mitochondria themselves should have raised concerns about the validity of this experimental approach. Here, we review pitfalls of the horseradish peroxidase/amplex red detection system for the measurement of mitochondrial ROS formation rates, with an emphasis on longevity studies. Importantly, antioxidant systems in the mitochondrial matrix are often capable of scavenging H2O2 faster than mitochondria produce it. As a consequence, as much as 84% of the H2O2 produced by mitochondria may be consumed before it diffuses into the reaction medium, where it can be detected by the horseradish peroxidase/amplex red system, this proportion is likely not consistent across species. Furthermore, previous studies often used substrates that elicit H2O2 formation at a much higher rate than in physiological conditions and at sites of secondary importance in vivo. Recent evidence suggests that the activity of matrix antioxidants may correlate with longevity instead of the rate of H2O2 formation. We conclude that past studies have been methodologically insufficient to address the putative relationship between longevity and mitochondrial ROS. Thus, novel methodological approaches are required that more accurately encompass mitochondrial ROS metabolism.
Mitochondrial electron transfer for oxidative ATP regeneration is linked to reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in aerobic eukaryotic cells. Because they can contribute to signaling as well as oxidative damage in cells, these ROS have profound impact for the physiology and survival of the organism. Although mitochondria have been recognized as a potential source for ROS for about 50 years, the mechanistic understanding on molecular sites and processes has advanced recently. Most experimental approaches neglect thermal variability among species although temperature impacts mitochondrial processes significantly. Here we delineate the importance of temperature by comparing muscle mitochondrial ROS formation across species. Measuring the thermal sensitivity of respiration, electron leak rate (ROS formation), and the antioxidant capacity (measured as H2O2 consumption) in intact mitochondria of representative ectothermic and endothermic vertebrate species, our results suggest that using a common assay temperature is inappropriate for comparisons of organisms with differing body temperatures. Moreover, we propose that measuring electron leak relative to the mitochondrial antioxidant capacity (the oxidant ratio) may be superior to normalizing relative to respiration rates or mitochondrial protein for comparisons of mitochondrial metabolism of ROS across species of varying mitochondrial respiratory capacities.
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