A new study led by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine recently reviewed the growing evidence supporting the concept that dysfunction of mitochondria is closely associated with cardiac aging. The study was published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) and is entitled “Mitochondrial dysfunction in cardiac aging.”
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in most developed countries, and aging is a known risk factor for disease development, with older individuals often experiencing more adverse events. Cardiac aging is linked to both cellular and molecular alterations that lead to an impaired cardiac function. Mitochondria, the small cellular organelles considered the “powerhouse” of cells where the energy for the body is produced, are thought to play an important role in these processes as the heart is a highly metabolic organ that depends on the maintenance of an energetic homeostasis, which is directly regulated by mitochondria. The heart is, therefore, especially vulnerable to mitochondrial dysfunction.
In the study, the team reviewed evidence for the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and cardiac aging.
Mitochondria are a source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which, when present in high levels can induce significant damage to cell structures and lead to the development of medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration. According to the authors, cardiac aging is accompanied by an overall decline in mitochondrial function, a decrease in the levels of key mitochondrial proteins and an increased production of ROS.
Given the key role of mitochondria in guaranteeing an adequate cellular function and energetic homeostasis, research has focused on developing mitochondrially targeted therapies for several medical conditions, including cardiac dysfunction and aging.
One of these mitochondrial targeted therapies relies on the use of antioxidants to attenuate the oxidative stress in the mitochondrial environment. MitoQ is a synthetic antioxidant, analogous to the natural antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, which accumulates within the mitochondria and is able to efficiently reduce oxidative stress, minimizing the related damage to cells. MitoQ has been shown to offer protection from tissue damage, reduce hypertension, and improve the cardiovascular function.