Electrophilic Stress, Membranes, and Aging

You may recall that composition of cell membranes is strongly correlated to species longevity - the idea being that some membranes are more resistant to the damage of reactive oxygen species than others, and that damage resistance at the cellular level ultimately translates into a longer-lived animal. Here is more on that topic: "This review begins with the premise that an organism's life span is determined by the balance between two countervailing forces: (i) the sum of destabilizing effects and (ii) the sum of protective longevity-assurance processes. Against this backdrop, the role of electrophiles is discussed, both as destabilizing factors and as signals that induce protective responses. Because most biological macromolecules contain nucleophilic centers, electrophiles are particularly reactive and toxic in a biological context. The majority of cellular electrophiles are generated from polyunsaturated fatty acids by a peroxidation chain reaction that is readily triggered by oxygen-centered radicals, but propagates without further input of reactive oxygen species(ROS). Thus, the formation of lipid-derived electrophiles such as 4-hydroxynon-2-enal (4-HNE) is proposed to be relatively insensitive to the level of initiating ROS, but to depend mainly on the availability of peroxidation-susceptible fatty acids. This is consistent with numerous observations that life span is inversely correlated with membrane peroxidizability and with the hypothesis that 4-HNE may constitute the mechanistic link between high susceptibility of membrane lipids to peroxidation and shortened life span. Experimental interventions that directly alter membrane composition (and thus their peroxidizability) or modulate 4-HNE levels have the expected effects on life span, establishing that the connection is not only correlative but causal. Specific molecular mechanisms are considered, by which 4-HNE could (i) destabilize biological systems via nontargeted reactions with cellular macromolecules and (ii) modulate signaling pathways that control longevity-assurance mechanisms."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21708248


Another abstract by the same author indicates that 4-HNE level does not vary monotonically with longevity, and that there is an optimum level. It would be interesting to know whether the longevity effect is due to a general slowing of development, or lengthening of fully-developed adult health-span.

Posted by: Lou Pagnucco at June 29th, 2011 12:33 PM

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