, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 337–346 | Cite as

Influence of aerobic fitness on age-related lymphocyte DNA damage in humans: relationship with mitochondria respiratory chain and hydrogen peroxide production

  • Maria Paula MotaEmail author
  • Francisco M. Peixoto
  • Jorge F. Soares
  • Pedro A. Figueiredo
  • José C. Leitão
  • Isabel Gaivão
  • José A. Duarte


The aim of this study was to analyze the influence of aerobic fitness (AF) on age-related lymphocyte DNA damage in humans, giving special attention to the role of the mitochondrial respiratory chain and hydrogen peroxide production. Considering age and AF (as assessed by VO2max), 66 males (19–59 years old) were classified as high fitness (HF) or low fitness (LF) and distributed into one of the following groups: young adults (19–29 years old), adults (30–39 years old), and middle-aged adults (over 40 years old). Peripheral lymphocytes obtained at rest were used to assess DNA damage (strand breaks and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) sites through the comet assay), activity of mitochondrial complexes I and II (polarographically measured), and the hydrogen peroxide production rate (assayed by fluorescence). Results revealed a significant interaction between age groups and AF for DNA strand breaks (F = 8.415, p = .000), FPG sites (F = 11.766, p = .000), mitochondrial complex I activity (F = 7.555, p = .000), and H2O2 production (F = 7.500, p = .000). Except for mitochondrial complex II activity, the age variation of the remaining parameters was significantly attenuated by HF. Considering each AF level, an increase in DNA strand breaks and FPG sites with age (r = 0.655, p = 0.000, and r = 0.738, p = 0.000, respectively) was only observed in LF. Moreover, decreased mitochondrial complex I activity with age (r = −.470, p = .009) was reported in LF. These results allow the conclusion that high AF seems to play a key role in attenuating the biological aging process.


DNA damage FPG sites Oxidative stress Mitochondrial respiratory chain Aging Exercise 



We are thankful to Dr. Andrew Collins (University of Oslo, Oslo Norway) for providing the comet assay protocol and the enzyme FPG.


This work was supported by a grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (POCI/DES/62301/2004, POCI 2010, and FEDER).


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Copyright information

© American Aging Association, Media, PA, USA 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Paula Mota
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francisco M. Peixoto
    • 2
  • Jorge F. Soares
    • 1
  • Pedro A. Figueiredo
    • 3
  • José C. Leitão
    • 1
  • Isabel Gaivão
    • 2
  • José A. Duarte
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Centro de Investigação em Desporto, Saúde e Desenvolvimento HumanoVila RealPortugal
  2. 2.University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Centro de Ciência Animal e VeterináriaVila RealPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto Superior da Maia, Centro de Investigação em Actividade Física, Saúde e LazerPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Faculty of Sports, Centro de Investigação em Actividade Física, Saúde e LazerPortoPortugal

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