Alterations of Antioxidant Enzymes and Oxidative Damage to Macromolecules in Different Organs of Rats During Aging
Oxygen free radicals have been hypothesized to play an important role in the aging process. To investigate the correlation between the oxidative stress and aging, we have determined the levels of oxidative protein damage and lipid peroxidation in the brain and liver, and activities of antioxidant enzymes in the brain, liver, heart, kidney, and serum from the Fisher 344 rats at ages of 1, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. The results showed that the level of oxidative protein damage (measured as carbonyl content) in the brain and liver was significantly higher in older animals than in young animals. No statistical difference was observed in the lipid peroxidation of the liver and brain between young and old animals. The activities of antioxidant enzymes in most tissues displayed an age-dependent decline. Superoxide dismutases in the heart, kidney, and serum, glutathione peroxidase activities in the serum and kidney, and catalase activities in the brain, liver, and kidney, significantly decreased during aging. Cytochrome c oxidase, an enzyme involved in electron transport in mitochondria, initially increased, but subsequently decreased in the aged brain, whereas no significant alteration was observed in the liver mitochondrial antioxidant enzymes. The present studies suggest that the accumulation of oxidized proteins during aging is most likely to be linked with an age-related decline of antioxidant enzyme activities, whereas lipid peroxidation is less sensitive to predict the aging process.