Mitochondrial membrane fluidity and oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in aged and AD human brain

Patrizia Mecocci, M. Flint Beal, Roberta Cecchetti, Maria Cristina Polidori, Antonio Cherubini, Fausto Chionne, Luca Avellini, Giustina Romano, Umberto Senin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Oxidative damage on biological molecules has been proposed as a major cause of alterations observed in aging brain as well as in neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we measured membrane fluidity in mitochondria extracted from three cerebral regions and cerebellum of Alzheimer disease (AD) patients and age-matched controls by means of fluorescence polarization technique. A significant reduction of mitochondrial membrane fluidity was found in AD, except in cerebellum. In controls, a decrease of membrane fluidity was observed along with age, and it was also related to the content of the oxidized nucleoside 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (OH8dG) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Alteration in membrane fluidity seems to be a result of lipid peroxidation, since it dramatically decreased when mitochondria were exposed to FeCl2 and H2O2. The parallel increase of viscosity in mitochondrial membrane and the amount of OH8dG in mtDNA is suggestive of a relationship between these biological markers of oxidative stress. These results provide further evidence that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Chemical Neuropathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1997



  • Aging brain
  • Alzheimer disease (AD)
  • Membrane fluidity
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Mecocci, P., Beal, M. F., Cecchetti, R., Polidori, M. C., Cherubini, A., Chionne, F., Avellini, L., Romano, G., & Senin, U. (1997). Mitochondrial membrane fluidity and oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in aged and AD human brain. Molecular and Chemical Neuropathology, 31(1), 53-64.