Aging related impairment of brain microvascular bioenergetics involves oxidative phosphorylation and glycolytic pathways


Mitochondrial and glycolytic energy pathways regulate the vascular functions. Aging impairs the cerebrovascular function and increases the risk of stroke and cognitive dysfunction. The goal of our study is to characterize the impact of aging on brain microvascular energetics. We measured the oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification rates of freshly isolated brain microvessels (BMVs) from young (2–4 months) and aged (20–22 months) C57Bl/6 male mice. Cellular ATP production in BMVs was predominantly dependent on oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) with glucose as the preferred energy substrate. Aged BMVs exhibit lower ATP production rate with diminished OXPHOS and glycolytic rate accompanied by increased utilization of glutamine. Impairments of glycolysis displayed by aged BMVs included reduced compensatory glycolysis whereas impairments of mitochondrial respiration involved reduction of spare respiratory capacity and proton leak. Aged BMVs showed reduced levels of key glycolysis proteins including glucose transporter 1 and 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 but normal lactate dehydrogenase activity. Mitochondrial protein levels were mostly unchanged whereas citrate synthase activity was reduced, and glutamate dehydrogenase was increased in aged BMVs. Thus, for the first time, we identified the dominant role of mitochondria in bioenergetics of BMVs and the alterations of the energy pathways that make the aged BMVs vulnerable to injury.

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