Oxidative Stress Mediates Ethanol-Induced Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Dysregulated Protein Synthesis and Autophagy

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Free Radical Biology and Medicine


© 2019 Elsevier Inc. Protein synthesis and autophagy are regulated by cellular ATP content. We tested the hypothesis that mitochondrial dysfunction, including generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), contributes to impaired protein synthesis and increased proteolysis resulting in tissue atrophy in a comprehensive array of models. In myotubes treated with ethanol, using unbiased approaches, we identified defects in mitochondrial electron transport chain components, endogenous antioxidants, and enzymes regulating the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Using high sensitivity respirometry, we observed impaired cellular respiration, decreased function of complexes I, II, and IV, and a reduction in oxidative phosphorylation in ethanol-treated myotubes and muscle from ethanol-fed mice. These perturbations resulted in lower skeletal muscle ATP content and redox ratio (NAD+/NADH). Ethanol also caused a leak of electrons, primarily from complex III, with generation of mitochondrial ROS and reverse electron transport. Oxidant stress with lipid peroxidation (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances) and protein oxidation (carbonylated proteins) were increased in myotubes and skeletal muscle from mice and humans with alcoholic liver disease. Ethanol also impaired succinate oxidation in the TCA cycle with decreased metabolic intermediates. MitoTEMPO, a mitochondrial specific antioxidant, reversed ethanol-induced mitochondrial perturbations (including reduced oxygen consumption, generation of ROS and oxidative stress), increased TCA cycle intermediates, and reversed impaired protein synthesis and the sarcopenic phenotype. We show that ethanol causes skeletal muscle mitochondrial dysfunction, decreased protein synthesis, and increased autophagy, and that these perturbations are reversed by targeting mitochondrial ROS.