Genetically enhancing mitochondrial antioxidant activity improves muscle function in aging

Alisa Umanskaya, Gaetano Santulli, Wenjun Xie, Daniel C. Andersson, Steven R. Reiken, Andrew R. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Age-related skeletal muscle dysfunction is a leading cause of morbidity that affects up to half the population aged 80 or greater. Here we tested the effects of increased mitochondrial antioxidant activity on age-dependent skeletal muscle dysfunction using transgenic mice with targeted overexpression of the human catalase gene to mitochondria (MCat mice). Aged MCat mice exhibited improved voluntary exercise, increased skeletal muscle specific force and tetanic Ca2+ transients, decreased intracellular Ca2+ leak and increased sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ load compared with age-matched wild type (WT) littermates. Furthermore, ryanodine receptor 1 (the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release channel required for skeletal muscle contraction; RyR1) from aged MCat mice was less oxidized, depleted of the channel stabilizing subunit, calstabin1, and displayed increased single channel open probability (Po). Overall, these data indicate a direct role for mitochondrial free radicals in promoting the pathological intracellular Ca2+ leak that underlies age-dependent loss of skeletal muscle function. This study harbors implications for the development of novel therapeutic strategies, including mitochondria-targeted antioxidants for treatment of mitochondrial myopathies and other healthspan-limiting disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15250-15255
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Exercise capacity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Oxidation
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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