Lack of Age-Related Respiratory Changes in Daphnia

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Aging is a multifaceted process of accumulation of damage and waste in cells and tissues; age-related changes in mitochondria and in respiratory metabolism have the focus of aging research for decades. Studies of aging in nematodes, flies and mammals all revealed age-related decline in respiratory functions, with somewhat controversial causative role. Here we investigated age-related changes in respiration rates, lactate/pyruvate ratio, a commonly used proxy for NADH/NAD+ balance, and mitochondrial membrane potential in 4 genotypes of an emerging model organism for aging research, a cyclic parthenogen Daphnia magna. We show that total body weight-adjusted respiration rate decreased with age, although this decrease was small in magnitude and could be fully accounted for by the decrease in locomotion and feeding activity. Neither total respiration normalized by protein content, nor basal respiration rate measured in anaesthetized animals decreased with age. Lactate/pyruvate ratio and mitochondrial membrane potential (∆Ψ) showed no age-related changes, with possible exceptions of ∆Ψ in epipodites (excretory and gas exchange organs) in which ∆Ψ decreased with age and in the optical lobe of the brain, in which ∆Ψ showed a maximum at middle age. We conclude that actuarial senescence in Daphnia is not caused by a decline in respiratory metabolism and discuss possible mechanisms of maintaining mitochondrial healthspan throughout the lifespan.