Aging and lifelong calorie restriction result in adaptations of skeletal muscle apoptosis repressor, apoptosis-inducing factor, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, caspase-3, and caspase-12.
The mechanisms of apoptosis in the loss of myocytes in skeletal muscle with age and the role of mitochondrial and sarcoplasmic reticulum-mediated pathways of apoptosis are unknown. Moreover, it is unknown whether lifelong calorie restriction prevents apoptosis in skeletal muscle and reverses age-related alterations in apoptosis signaling. We investigated key apoptotic regulatory proteins in the gastrocnemius muscle of 12 and 26 month old ad libitum fed and 26 month old calorie-restricted male Fischer-344 rats. We found that apoptosis increased with age and that calorie-restricted rats showed less apoptosis compared with their age-matched cohorts. Moreover, pro- and cleaved caspase-3 levels increased significantly with age and calorie-restricted rats had significantly lower levels than the aged ad libitum group. Neither age nor calorie restriction had any effect on muscle caspase-3 enzyme activity, but the levels of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, particularly an inhibitor of caspase-3, increased with age and were reduced significantly in the 26 month old calorie-restricted cohort. The apoptotic inhibitor apoptosis repressor with a caspase recruitment domain (ARC), which inhibits cytochrome c release, underwent an age-associated decline in the cytosol but increased with calorie restriction. In contrast, mitochondrial ARC levels increased with age and were lower in calorie-restricted rats than in age-matched controls, suggesting a translocation of this protein to attenuate oxidative stress. The translocation of ARC may explain the reduction in cytosolic cytochrome c levels observed with age and calorie restriction. Moreover, we found a striking approximately 350% increase in the expression of procaspase-12 (caspase located at the sarcoplasmic reticulum) with age which was significantly lower in the 26 month old calorie-restricted group. The total protein level of apoptosis-inducing factor in the plantaris muscle increased with age and was reduced calorie-restricted rats compared with age-matched controls, but there were no significant changes in this pro-apoptotic protein in the isolated nuclei. Calorie restriction is able to lower the apoptotic potential in aged skeletal muscle by altering several key apoptotic proteins toward cellular survival, thereby reducing the potential for sarcopenia.