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Bioenergetic Therapy for Aging

Mitochondria hold the key to cellular life and death

February 2001

A model of bioenergetic aging
The bioenergetic theory of aging

The bioenergetic theory of aging

Figure 1. The series of boxes on the bottom shows how mitochondrial deterioration
can hasten aging and degeneration, as proposed by Linnane. Mitochondria are highly
susceptible to oxidative stress, which reinforces the other factors.

According to the free radical theory of aging, the buildup of oxidative stress and oxidative damage causes age-related degeneration. Since mitochondrial DNA and the cellular respiratory chain are highly susceptible to oxidative damage, this theory complements the bioenergetic theory of aging proposed by Linnane. Figure 2 illustrates how these theories might fit together.

When Cellular Energy Declines

Image with Caption
Figure 2. Cell undergoing programmed cell death.

Programmed cell death is a well-orchestrated process of cellular self-destruction. As the cell shrinks and then fragments, its organelles remain relatively intact and enclosed by membranes. Neighboring cells or macrophages safely digest the fragments. By contrast, in necrotic cell death the cell swells and ruptures, organelles disintegrate, and inflammation tends to occur.


Figure 3. CoQ10 protects rat liver mitochondria from free radical toxicity.

Normal mitochondria from the liver of an untreated rat. Megamitochondria from the liver of a rat given the toxin hydrazine. This remarkable enlargement of the mitochondria often precedes cell death from oxidative stess. Mitochondria from the liver of a rat given CoQ10 along with the toxin. These mitochondria are nearly normal, exhibiting only slight enlargement.

Artist's impression, adapted from Adachi K. et al. (1995).


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