Mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1 inhibits age-dependent involution of the thymus in normal and senescence-prone rats

Aging (Albany NY). 2009 Apr 22;1(4):389-401. doi: 10.18632/aging.100043.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Plastoquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Plastoquinone / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects*
  • Thymus Gland / physiology*


  • 10-(6'-plastoquinonyl)decyltriphenylphosphonium
  • Antioxidants
  • Plastoquinone