Critical role of mitochondrial ROS is dependent on their site of production on the electron transport chain in ischemic heart

Ngonidzashe B. Madungwe, Netanel F. Zilberstein, Yansheng Feng, Jean C. Bopassa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation has been implicated in many pathologies including ischemia/ reperfusion (I/R) injury. This led to multiple studies on antioxidant therapies to treat cardiovascular diseases but paradoxically, results have so far been mixed as ROS production can be beneficial as a signaling mechanism and in cardiac protection via preconditioning interventions. We investigated whether the differential impact of increased ROS in injury as well as in protection could be explained by their site of production on the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Using amplex red to measure ROS production, we found that mitochondria isolated from hearts after I/R produced more ROS than non-ischemic when complex I substrate (glutamate/malate) was used. Interestingly, the substrates of complex II (succinate) and ubiquinone (sn-glycerol 3-phosphate, G3P) produced less ROS in mitochondria from I/R hearts compared to normal healthy hearts. The inhibitors of complex I (rotenone) and complex III (antimycin A) increased ROS production when glutamate/malate and G3P were used; in contrast, they reduced ROS production when the complex II substrate was used. Mitochondrial calcium retention capacity required to induce mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening was measured using calcium green fluorescence and was found to be higher when mitochondria were treated with G3P and succinate compared to glutamate/ malate. Furthermore, Langendorff hearts treated with glutamate/malate exhibited reduced cardiac functional recovery and increased myocardial infarct size compared to hearts treated with G3P. Thus, ROS production by the stimulated respiratory chain complexes I and III has opposite roles: cardio-deleterious when produced in complex I and cardio-protective when produced in complex III. The mechanism of these ROS involves the inhibition of the mPTP opening, a key event in cell death following ischemia/reperfusion injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-108
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiovascular Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Electron transport chain
  • Ischemia
  • Mitochondrial permeability transition pore
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Reperfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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