PMID: 37657934
Date of Publication: September 1, 2023
Institutional Affiliation:
Stem Cells and Metabolism Research Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, , Finland
Helsinki University Hospital, HUSLAB , , Helsinki, Finland


Lilli Ikonen , Sini Pirnes-Karhu, Swagat Pradhan, Howard T Jacobs, Marten Szibor , Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara


Energetic insufficiency, excess production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and aberrant signaling partially account for the diverse pathology of mitochondrial diseases. Whether interventions affecting ROS, a regulator of stem cell pools, could modify somatic stem cell homeostasis remains unknown. Previous data from mitochondrial DNA mutator mice showed that increased ROS leads to oxidative damage in erythroid progenitors, causing lifespan-limiting anemia. Also unclear is how ROS-targeted interventions affect terminally differentiated tissues. Here, we set out to test in mitochondrial DNA mutator mice how ubiquitous expression of the Ciona intestinalis alternative oxidase (AOX), which attenuates ROS production, affects murine stem cell pools. We found that AOX does not affect neural stem cells but delays the progression of mutator-driven anemia. Furthermore, when combined with the mutator, AOX potentiates mitochondrial stress and inflammatory responses in skeletal muscle. These differential cell type-specific findings demonstrate that AOX expression is not a global panacea for curing mitochondrial dysfunction. ROS attenuation must be carefully studied regarding specific underlying defects before AOX can be safely used in therapy.