Mitochondrial membrane fluidity and oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in aged and AD human brain

Mol Chem Neuropathol. 1997 May;31(1):53-64. doi: 10.1007/BF02815160.


Oxidative damage on biological molecules has been proposed as a major cause of alterations observed in aging brain as well as in neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we measured membrane fluidity in mitochondria extracted from three cerebral regions and cerebellum of Alzheimer disease (AD) patients and age-matched controls by means of fluorescence polarization technique. A significant reduction of mitochondrial membrane fluidity was found in AD, except in cerebellum. In controls, a decrease of membrane fluidity was observed along with age, and it was also related to the content of the oxidized nucleoside 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (OH8dG) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Alteration in membrane fluidity seems to be a result of lipid peroxidation, since it dramatically decreased when mitochondria were exposed to FeCl2 and H2O2. The parallel increase of viscosity in mitochondrial membrane and the amount of OH8dG in mtDNA is suggestive of a relationship between these biological markers of oxidative stress. These results provide further evidence that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of AD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / pathology
  • Male
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Mitochondria / pathology*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Viscosity


  • DNA, Mitochondrial