Free radicals, hydroxyperoxides and H(2)O(2) are all known to damage cell components. This study was designed to compare the concentrations of hydroxyperoxide and free radical scavengers in the cardiac muscles of old rats in the hyper- or hypothyroid condition, to determine whether rates of peroxidation would differ with age, thyroid status, or both. Rats were rendered hyper- or hypothyroid by administration of l-thyroxine or methimazole for 4 weeks. Among the old rats, the lipid peroxide (LPO) concentrations, measured as thiobarbituric acid (TBA) reactants, were significantly greater in the hyperthyroid than in the euthyroid state and the LPO concentrations measured as TBA+Fe(3+) reactants, which may be precursors of LPO, were significantly greater in the hyperthyroid state, whereas in young rats, the LPO concentrations measured by TBA or TBA+Fe(3+) methods did not differ significantly in the hyperthyroid state. In the euthyroid state, the concentration of LPO measured as TBA+Fe(3+) reactants was significantly reduced with age. Xanthine oxidase (XOD) activity also was markedly increased with age, being more pronounced in the hyperthyroid than in the euthyroid state. The Mn and Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase activities were greater in the hyperthyroid than in the euthyroid state. Glutathione peroxidase activity decreased with age in the euthyroid and, particularly, in the hyperthyroid state. Catalase activity was not affected in the old rats. Concentrations of alpha-tocopherol in the old rats were high in the hyperthyroid state and low in the hypothyroid state, whereas the levels of beta- and gamma-tocopherols in these rats were unchanged in both conditions as compared with the euthyroid state findings. Data suggest that the site of free radical generation differs in older rats, with additional shifts in the location of intracellular lipid peroxidation being noted during hyperthyroidism. Thus, as rats age, the reduction of the free radical scavenger system and the increase in LPO and XOD activities might induce myocardial dysfunction.
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