In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings. He was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions, such as the progression from past to future or from one viewpoint to another. 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) and other nitrophenols have long been known to be toxic at high concentrations (the 'bad' face of DNP), an effect that appears essentially related to interference with cellular energy metabolism due to uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation.
Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs (London, England: 2000)
SIRT1 (sirtuin 1) is the human ortholog of the yeast Sir2 (silent information regulator 2) protein, which is implicated in lifespan extension in model organisms, such as yeast, worms and flies. It is an NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase with over two dozen known substrates that affect a wide variety of cellular processes, ranging from metabolism, cell cycle, growth and differentiation, inflammation, senescence, apoptosis, stress response and aging.
In previous investigations an impact of cellular copper homeostasis on ageing of the ascomycete Podospora anserina has been demonstrated. Here we provide new data indicating that mitochondria play a major role in this process. Determination of copper in the cytosolic fraction using total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy analysis and eGfp reporter gene studies indicate an age-related increase of cytosolic copper levels. We show that components of the mitochondrial matrix (i.e. eGFP targeted to mitochondria) become released from the organelle during ageing.
A botanical extract (Regrapex-R) prepared from whole grape (Vitis vinifera) and Polygonum cuspidatum, which contains polyphenols, including flavans, anthocyanins, emodin, and resveratrol, exhibited dose-dependent scavenging effects on reactive oxygen species (ROS). The extract inhibited increases of ROS and protein carbonyl in isolated rat liver mitochondria following exposure to 2,2'-azobis (2-amidino propane) dihydrocholoride (AAPH), a potent lipid oxidant generator.
Ageing can be defined as "a progressive, generalized impairment of function, resulting in an increased vulnerability to environmental challenge and a growing risk of disease and death". Ageing is likely a multifactorial process caused by accumulated damage to a variety of cellular components. During the last 20 years, gerontological studies have revealed different molecular pathways involved in the ageing process and pointed out mitochondria as one of the key regulators of longevity.
As in the case of aging, many degenerative disorders also result from progressive mitochondrial deterioration and cellular damage accumulation. Therefore, preventing damage accumulation may delay aging and help to prevent degenerative disorders, especially those associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans a mild mitochondrial dysfunction prolongs the lifespan.
The quest to understand why we age has given rise to numerous lines of investigation that have gradually converged to include metabolic control by mitochondrial activity as a major player. That is, the ideal balance between nutrient uptake, its transduction into usable energy, and the mitigation of damaging byproducts can be regulated by mitochondrial respiration and output (ATP, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and heat). Mitochondrial inefficiency through proton leak, which uncouples substrate oxidation from ADP phosphorylation, can comprise as much as 30% of the basal metabolic rate.
Aging is a complex process accompanied by a decreased capacity of cells to cope with random molecular damages. Damaged proteins can form aggregates and have cytotoxic properties, a feature of many age-associated diseases. Small Hsps are chaperones involved in the refolding and/or disposal of protein aggregates. In Drosophila melanogaster, the mitochondrial DmHsp22 is preferentially upregulated during aging. Its over-expression results in an extension of lifespan (>30%) and an increased resistance to stress.
Platinum nanoparticle (Pt-np) species are superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetics and also have an activity similar to that of mitochondrial electron transport complex I. To examine if this complex I-like activity functions in vivo, we studied the effects of Pt-nps on the lifespan of a mitochondrial complex I-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans mutant, nuo-1 (LB25) compared with wild-type N2. We synthesized a fusion protein of a cell-penetrating peptide, human immunodeficiency virus-1 TAT (48-60), C-terminally linked to a peptide with a high affinity to platinum (GRKKRRQRRRPPQ-DRTSTWR).
Average lifespan has increased over the last centuries, as a consequence of medical and environmental factors, but maximal life span remains unchanged. Better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of aging and determinants of life span will help to reduce age-related morbidity and facilitate healthy aging. Extension of maximal life span is currently possible in animal models with measures such as genetic manipulations and caloric restriction (CR). CR appears to prolong life by reducing oxidative damage.