Chronic inhibition of the respiratory chain in human fibroblast cultures: Differential responses related to subject chronological and biological age

Pim Dekker, Laurens M. Van Baalen, Roeland W. Dirks, P. Eline Slagboom, Diana Van Heemst, Hans J. Tanke, Rudi G J Westendorp, Andrea B. Maier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Respiratory chain function becomes less efficient with age resulting in increased levels of damaging reactive oxygen species. We compared rotenone-exposed fibroblast strains from young and old subjects and from offspring of nonagenarian siblings and the partners of the offspring. Rotenone increased reactive oxygen species levels, inhibited growth rate, and increased telomere shortening (all p <. 05). Non-stressed strains from young subjects showed lower reactive oxygen species levels (p =. 031) and higher growth rates (p =. 002) than strains from old subjects. Stressed strains from young subjects showed smaller increases in reactive oxygen species levels (p =. 014) and larger decreases in growth rate (p <. 001) than strains from old subjects. Telomere-shortening rates were not different between groups. Stress-induced decreases in growth rate were larger in strains from offspring than from partners (p =. 05). Strains from young and old subjects are differentially affected by chronic inhibition of the respiratory chain. Changed growth rates in strains from offspring resemble those from strains from young subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-464
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume67 A
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012



  • Growth rate
  • Mitochondria
  • ROS
  • Skin fibroblasts
  • Telomere length

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