Mitochondria and aging

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012:942:311-27. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2869-1_14.


Aging is a degenerative process that is associated with progressive accumulation of deleterious changes with time, reduction of physiological function and increase in the chance of disease and death. Studies in several species reveal a wide spectrum of alterations in mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with aging, including (1) increased disorganization of mitochondrial structure, (2) decline in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) function, (3) accumulation of mtDNA mutation, (4) increased mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and (5) increased extent of oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids. In this chapter, we outline the common alterations in mitochondria of the aging tissues and recent advances in understanding the role of mitochondrial H(2)O(2) production and mtDNA mutation in the aging process and lifespan determination. In addition, we discuss the effect of caloric restriction on age-associated mitochondrial changes and its role in longevity. Taking these findings together, we suggest that decline in mitochondrial energy metabolism, enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress, and accumulation of mtDNA mutations are important contributors to human aging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Reactive Oxygen Species