Antioxidant enzyme activities are not broadly correlated with longevity in 14 vertebrate endotherm species
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The free radical theory of ageing posits that accrual of oxidative damage underlies the increased cellular, tissue and organ dysfunction and failure associated with advanced age. In support of this theory, cellular resistance to oxidative stress is highly correlated with life span, suggesting that prevention or repair of oxidative damage might indeed be essential for longevity. To test the hypothesis that the prevention of oxidative damage underlies longevity, we measured the activities of the five major intracellular antioxidant enzymes in brain, heart and liver tissue of 14 mammalian and avian species with maximum life spans (MLSPs) ranging from 3 years to over 100 years. Our data set included Snell dwarf mice in which life span is increased by approximately 50% compared to their normal littermates. We found that CuZn superoxide dismutase, the major cytosolic superoxide dismutase, showed no correlation with MLSP in any of the three organs. Similarly, neither glutathione peroxidase nor glutathione reductase activities correlated with MLSP. MnSOD, the sole mitochondrial superoxide dismutase in mammals and birds, was positively correlated with MLSP only for brain tissue. This same trend was observed for catalase. For all correlational data, effects of body mass and phylogenetic relatedness were removed using residual analysis and Felsenstein's phylogenetically independent contrasts. Our results are not consistent with a causal role for intracellular antioxidant enzymes in longevity, similar to recent reports from studies utilising genetic modifications of mice (Pérez et al., Biochim Biophys Acta 1790:1005-1014, 2009). However, our results indicate a specific augmentation of reactive oxygen species neutralising activities in brain associated with longevity.
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