Comprehensive investigations of key mitochondrial metabolic changes in senescent human fibroblasts

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2022 Jul 1;26(4):263-275. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2022.26.4.263.


There is a paucity of detailed data related to the effect of senescence on the mitochondrial antioxidant capacity and redox state of senescent human cells. Activities of TCA cycle enzymes, respiratory chain complexes, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide anions (SA), lipid peroxides (LPO), protein carbonyl content (PCC), thioredoxin reductase 2 (TrxR2), superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2), glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx1), glutathione reductase (GR), reduced glutathione (GSH), and oxidized glutathione (GSSG), along with levels of nicotinamide cofactors and ATP content were measured in young and senescent human foreskin fibroblasts. Primary and senescent cultures were biochemically identified by monitoring the augmented cellular activities of key glycolytic enzymes including phosphofructokinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and glycogen phosphorylase, and accumulation of H2O2, SA, LPO, PCC, and GSSG. Citrate synthase, aconitase, α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, succinate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, isocitrate dehydrogenase, and complex I-III, IIIII, and IV activities were significantly diminished in P25 and P35 cells compared to P5 cells. This was accompanied by significant accumulation of mitochondrial H2O2, SA, LPO, and PCC, along with increased transcriptional and enzymatic activities of TrxR2, SOD2, GPx1, and GR. Notably, the GSH/GSSG ratio was significantly reduced whereas NAD+/NADH and NADP+/NADPH ratios were significantly elevated. Metabolic exhaustion was also evident in senescent cells underscored by the severely diminished ATP/ADP ratio. Profound oxidative stress may contribute, at least in part, to senescence pointing at a potential protective role of antioxidants in aging-associated disease.

Keywords: Aging; Antioxidants; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; Senescence.