Delaying aging with mitochondrial micronutrients and antioxidants
Atamna H, Ames BN, Liu J.
ScientificWorldJournal. 2001 Jan 1;1(1 Suppl 3):81-2


MITOCHONDRIAL DECAY IN AGING. Mitochondria decay with age due to the oxidation of mtDNA, proteins, and lipids. Some of this decay can be reversed in old rats by feeding them normal mitochondrial metabolites at high levels. Aging appears to be in good part due to the oxidants produced as by-products of normal metabolism by mitochondria [1-5]. In old rats mitochondrial membrane potential, cardiolipin levels, respiratory control ratio, and overall cellular O2 consumption are lower than in young rats and the level of oxidants (per unit O2) and mutagenic aldehydes from lipid peroxidation is higher [3]. Ambulatory activity declines markedly in old rats. Spatial memory as measured by the Morris water maze, also declines with age. Feeding old rats the normal mitochondrial metabolites acetyl carnitine and lipoic acid for a few weeks, restores mitochondrial function, lowers oxidants to the level of a young rat, and increases ambulatory activity and spatial memory [6-11]. Thus, these two metabolites can be considered necessary for health in old age and are therefore "conditional micronutrients". This restoration suggests a plausible mechanism [11]: with age increased oxidative damage to proteins, such as acyl carnitine transferase (whose activity declines with age), and lipid membranes, particularly in mitochondria, causes a deformation of structure of key enzymes, with a consequent lessening of affinity (Km) for the enzyme substrate; an increased level of the substrate restores the velocity of the reaction, and thus restores function.

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