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Vitamin E At High Doses Improves Survival, Neurological Performance, And Brain Mitochondrial Function In Aging Male Mice

Ana Navarro, Carmen Gómez, María-Jesús Sánchez-Pino, Hipólito González, Manuel J. Bández, Alejandro D. Boveris, Alberto Boveris

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Male mice receiving vitamin E (5.0 g α-tocopherol acetate/kg of food) from 28 wk of age showed a 40% increased median life span, from 61 ± 4 wk to 85 ± 4 wk, and 17% increased maximal life span, whereas female mice equally supplemented exhibited only 14% increased median life span. The α-tocopherol content of brain and liver was 2.5-times and 7-times increased in male mice, respectively. Vitamin E-supplemented male mice showed a better performance in the tightrope (neuromuscular function) and the T-maze (exploratory activity) tests with improvements of 9–24% at 52 wk and of 28–45% at 78 wk. The rates of electron transfer in brain mitochondria, determined as state 3 oxygen uptake and as NADH-cytochrome c reductase and cytochrome oxidase activities, were 16–25% and 35–38% diminished at 52–78 wk. These losses of mitochondrial function were ameliorated by vitamin E supplementation by 37–56% and by 60–66% at the two time points considered. The activities of mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase and Mn-SOD decreased 28–67% upon aging and these effects were partially (41–68%) prevented by vitamin E treatment. Liver mitochondrial activities showed similar effects of aging and of vitamin E supplementation, although less marked. Brain mitochondrial enzymatic activities correlated negatively with the mitochondrial content of protein and lipid oxidation products ( r2= 0.58–0.99, P < 0.01), and the rates of respiration and of complex I and IV activities correlated positively ( r2= 0.74–0.80, P < 0.01) with success in the behavioral tests and with maximal life span.