One of the most striking changes during mammal aging is a progressive involution of the thymus, associated with an increase in susceptibility to infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer. In order to delay age-related processes, we have developed mitochondria-targeted antioxidant plastoquinonyl decyltriphenyl phosphonium (SkQ1). Here we report that, at low doses, SkQ1 (250 nmol/kg per day) inhibited age-dependent involution of the thymus in normal (Wistar) and senescence-prone (OXYS) rats. SkQ1 preserved total weight and volume of the organ, the volume of thymic cortex and medulla, the thymic cellularity, and the number of CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells in the thymus. Moreover, SkQ1 was especially effective in senescence-prone rats. Thus SkQ1 slows down age-linked decline of the immune system, explaining prevention by this compound of infection-caused death in rodents, previously described in our group.
Keywords: aging; mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant SkQ1; progeric OXYS rats; thymus.