Oxidative stress and mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle: Effects of aging and exercise training

Raj Chandwaney, Steve Leichtweis, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Li Li Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The rate of oxidative phosphorylation was investigated in isolated mitochondria from hindlimb muscles of young (4.5 mo) and old (26.5 mo) male Fischer 344 rats with or without endurance training. Further, the susceptibility of the muscle mitochondria to exogenous reactive oxygen species was examined. State 3 and 4 respiration, as well as the respiratory control index (RCI), were significantly lower in muscle mitochondria from aged vs. young rats (P<0.05), using either the site 1 substrates malate-pyruvate (M-P) and 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG), or the site 2 substrate succinate. In both young and old rats, training increased state 4 respiration with M-P, but had no effect on state 3 respiration, resulting in a reduction of RCI. Training also increased state 4 respiration with 2-OG and decreased RCI in young rats. When muscle mitochondria were exposed to superoxide radicals (O2·-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) generated by xanthine oxidase and hypoxanthine, or H2O2 alone in vitro, state 3 respiration and RCI in both age groups were severely hampered, but those from the old rats were inhibited to a less extent than the young rats. In contrast, state 4 respiration was impaired by O2·- and/or H2O2 to a greater extent in the old rats. Muscle mitochondria from trained young rats showed a greater resistance to the O2·- and/or H2O2-induced state 3 and RCI inhibition than those from untrained young rats. Muscle from aged rats had significantly higher total activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxidase (GPX), and glutathione reductase than that from young rats, however, training increased SOD and GPX activities in young but not old rats. The results of this study suggest that mitochondrial capacity for oxidative phosphorylation is compromised in aging skeletal muscle. Further, the increased mitochondrial resistance to reactive oxygen species demonstrated in aged and young trained muscles may be attributed to enhanced antioxidant enzyme activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Aging Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present research was supported in part by a grant from the American Federation for Aging Research, and a grant-in-aid by the American Heart Association. Aged rats were generously supplied through an NIA/NIH pilot study research support grant. C. Leeuwenburgh was a recipient of the Student Stipend Award of the AHA (Illinois Affiliate).


  • Aging
  • Antioxidant enzyme
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Training


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