Superoxide has been shown to be critically involved in several pathological manifestations of aging animals. In contrast, superoxide also can act as a signaling molecule to modulate signal transduction cascades required for hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD-2 or Mn-SOD) is a key antioxidant enzyme that scavenges superoxide. Thus, SOD-2 may not only prevent aging-related oxidative stress, but may also regulate redox signaling in young animals. We used transgenic mice overexpressing SOD-2 to study the role of mitochondrial superoxide in aging, synaptic plasticity, and memory-associated behavior. We found that overexpression of SOD-2 had no obvious effect on synaptic plasticity and memory formation in young mice, and could not rescue the age-related impairments in either synaptic plasticity or memory in old mice. However, SOD-2 overexpression did decrease mitochondrial superoxide in hippocampal neurons, and extended the lifespan of the mice. These findings increase our knowledge of the role of mitochondrial superoxide in physiological and pathological processes in the brain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience