Age-related changes in energy metabolism in peripheral mononuclear blood cells (PBMCs) and the brains of cognitively healthy seniors


Mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of cellular senescence and many age-related neurodegenerative diseases. We therefore investigated the relationship between mitochondrial function in peripheral blood cells and cerebral energy metabolites in young and older sex-matched, physically and mentally healthy volunteers. Cross-sectional observational study involving 65 young (26.0 ± 0.49 years) and 65 older (71.7 ± 0.71 years) women and men recruited. Cognitive health was evaluated using established psychometric methods (MMSE, CERAD). Blood samples were collected and analyzed, and fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated. Mitochondrial respiratory complex activity was measured using a Clarke electrode. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and citrate synthase activity (CS) were determined by bioluminescence and photometrically. N-aspartyl-aspartate (tNAA), ATP, creatine (Cr), and phosphocreatine (PCr) were quantified in brains using 1H- and 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI). Levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) were determined using a radio-immune assay (RIA). Complex IV activity (CIV) (− 15%) and ATP levels (− 11%) were reduced in PBMCs isolated from older participants. Serum levels of IGF-1 were significantly reduced (− 34%) in older participants. Genes involved in mitochondrial activity, antioxidant mechanisms, and autophagy were unaffected by age. tNAA levels were reduced (− 5%), Cr (+ 11%), and PCr (+ 14%) levels were increased, and ATP levels were unchanged in the brains of older participants. Markers of energy metabolism in blood cells did not significantly correlate with energy metabolites in the brain. Age-related bioenergetic changes were detected in peripheral blood cells and the brains of healthy older people. However, mitochondrial function in peripheral blood cells does not reflect energy related metabolites in the brain. While ATP levels in PBMCs may be be a valid marker for age-related mitochondrial dysfunction in humans, cerebral ATP remained constant.




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GeroScience 46 (2024), 981 - 998




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