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The tissutal concentrations of reduced glutathione (GSH) and the contents of some key components in the electron transfer chain (namely ubiquinone, cytochromes b, c1, c, and aa3) of the intraterminal mitochondria are measured in the forebrains from 20-, 60-, or 100-week-old Wistar rats. Moreover, in 60-week-old rats, the biochemical analyses are performed also 18 h after the induction of a peroxidative stress by cyclohexene-1-one. The rats have been i.p. pretreated for 8 weeks (7 days/week) with agents acting on macrocirculation (papaverine), carbohydrate metabolism (hopanthenate), lipid metabolism (phosphatidylcholine), energy transduction (theniloxazine), and dopaminergic system (dihydroergocriptine). Brain aging is characterized by the decrease in both GSH and mitochondrial cytochrome aa3, without changes in ubiquinone and cytochrome b populations. In the same way, the peroxidative stress induced by cyclohexene-1-one causes both a GSH depletion and an imbalance among the concentrations of the mitochondrial electron transfer carriers. Only cytochrome aa3 retains all the partially-reduced oxygen intermediates tightly bound to its active sites. Therefore, it is possible to hypothesize that an electron leakage at the level of the auto-oxidizing chain components (i.e., cytochrome b and ubiquinone populations) increases the release of activated oxygen species (superoxide radical, hydroxyl radical). The treatment with the quoted pharmacological tools suggests that GSH and mitochondrial electron transfer carriers are functionally linked, but not interdependent one another.


G Benzi, O Pastoris, F Marzatico, R F Villa, F Dagani, D Curti. The mitochondrial electron transfer alteration as a factor involved in the brain aging. Neurobiology of aging. 1992 May-Jun;13(3):361-8

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PMID: 1320745

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