Mitochondria are important in aging, and the process by which they become damaged and contribute to degenerative aging starts with the fact that they emit reactive oxidants as a byproduct of their normal operation. The best approaches to removing this cause of aging involve repair of mitochondrial damage or altering cells to make the damage irrelevant, but researchers are also investigating ways to target antioxidants to the mitochondria. Additional antioxidants to augment natural ones soak up more of the oxidants and thus in theory slow down the pace of damage and the pace of aging. Studies carried out with plastinquinone mitochondrially targeted antioxidants seem to bear this out.
Mitochondrially targeted antioxidants are nowhere near as effective a strategy as repair, however. They cannot reverse or halt this contribution to aging, they can only somewhat slow it. But here is news of another type of mitochondrial antioxidant in early studies:
describe how in laboratory tests, they compared the protection offered against either UVA radiation or free radical stress by several antioxidants, some of which are found in foods or cosmetics. While UVB radiation easily causes sunburn, UVA radiation penetrates deeper, damaging our DNA by generating free radicals which degrades the collagen that gives skin its elastic quality.
The [team] found that the most potent anti-oxidants were those that targeted the batteries of the skin cells, known as the mitochondria. They compared these mitochondrial-targeted anti-oxidants to other non-specific antioxidants such as resveratrol, found in red wine, and curcumin found in curries, that target the entire cell. They found that the most potent mitochondrial targeted anti-oxidant was Tiron - 4,5-Dihydroxy-1,3-benzenedisulfonic acid disodium salt monohydrate - which provided 100%, protection of the skin cell against UVA sun damage and the release of damaging enzymes causing stress-induced damage.
Resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, was found to protect against 22% of both the ultraviolet A radiation and stress-induced damage. NAC, a frequently used laboratory-based anti-oxidant, offered 20% protection against oxidative stress and 8% against UVA and curcumin offered 16% protection against oxidative stress and 8% against UVA. In comparison Tiron offered 100% protection against UVA radiation and 100% protection against oxidative stress
The team intends to take the work forward by further understanding the mechanism of how Tiron works, developing a compound similar to Tiron and testing for toxicity in humans. They say it will be several years before it is ready for use as a skin product or supplement.
If this interests you, bear in mind that other injected or ingested mitochondrially targeted antioxidants have far more work done on them, have more impressive effects at the cellular level, are shown to prevent or slow a range of age-related conditions, and yet still cannot extend life greatly in laboratory animals: 10% in flies, for example, far less than the extension of life obtained through calorie restriction.