Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Effect of aging on muscle mitochondrial substrate utilization in humans.

PMID 26305973


Previous studies have implicated age-associated reductions in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation activity in skeletal muscle as a predisposing factor for intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) accumulation and muscle insulin resistance (IR) in the elderly. To further investigate potential alterations in muscle mitochondrial function associated with aging, we assessed basal and insulin-stimulated rates of muscle pyruvate dehydrogenase (VPDH) flux relative to citrate synthase flux (VCS) in healthy lean, elderly subjects and healthy young body mass index- and activity-matched subjects. VPDH/VCS flux was assessed from the (13)C incorporation from of infused [1-13C] glucose into glutamate [4-13C] relative to alanine [3-13C] assessed by LC-tandem MS in muscle biopsies. Insulin-stimulated rates of muscle glucose uptake were reduced by 25% (P<0.01) in the elderly subjects and were associated with ∼70% (P<0.04) increase in IMCL, assessed by 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Basal VPDH/VCS fluxes were similar between the groups (young: 0.20±0.03; elderly: 0.14±0.03) and increased approximately threefold in the young subjects following insulin stimulation. However, this increase was severely blunted in the elderly subjects (young: 0.55±0.04; elderly: 0.18±0.02, P=0.0002) and was associated with an ∼40% (P=0.004) reduction in insulin activation of Akt. These results provide new insights into acquired mitochondrial abnormalities associated with aging and demonstrate that age-associated reductions in muscle mitochondrial function and increased IMCL are associated with a marked inability of mitochondria to switch from lipid to glucose oxidation during insulin stimulation.