Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 47, Issue 1–2, pp 149–154 | Cite as

Changes in mitochondrial bioenergetics in the brain versus spinal cord become more apparent with age

  • Heather M. Yonutas
  • Jignesh D. Pandya
  • Patrick G. Sullivan


The cell is known to be the most basic unit of life. However, this basic unit of life is dependent on the proper function of many intracellular organelles to thrive. One specific organelle that has vast implications on the overall health of the cell and cellular viability is the mitochondrion. These cellular power plants generate the energy currency necessary for cells to maintain homeostasis and function properly. Additionally, when mitochondria become dysfunctional, they can orchestrate the cell to undergo cell-death. Therefore, it is important to understand what insults can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in order to promote cell health and increase cellular viability. After years of research, is has become increasingly accepted that age has a negative effect on mitochondrial bioenergetics. In support of this, we have found decreased mitochondrial bioenergetics with increased age in Sprague-Dawley rats. Within this same study we found a 200 to 600 % increase in ROS production in old rats compared to young rats. Additionally, the extent of mitochondrial dysfunction and ROS production seems to be spatially defined affecting the spinal cord to a greater extent than certain regions of the brain. These tissue specific differences in mitochondrial function may be the reason why certain regions of the Central Nervous System, CNS, are disproportionately affected by aging and may play a pivotal role in specific age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS.


Aging Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Brain Mitochondria Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore (mPTP) Respiration Spinal cord 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather M. Yonutas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jignesh D. Pandya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patrick G. Sullivan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC)The University of Kentucky Chandler College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyThe University of Kentucky Chandler College of MedicineLexingtonUSA

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