Muscular apoptosis but not oxidative stress increases with old age in a long-lived diver, the Weddell seal. Academic Article uri icon


  • Seals experience repeated bouts of ischemia-reperfusion while diving, potentially exposing their tissues to increased oxidant generation and thus oxidative damage and accelerated aging. We contrasted markers of oxidative damage with antioxidant profiles across age and sex for propulsive (longissismus dorsi) and maneuvering (pectoralis) muscles of Weddell seals to determine whether previously observed morphological senescence is associated with oxidative stress. In longissismus dorsi, old (age 17-26years) seals exhibited a nearly 2-fold increase in apoptosis over young (age 9-16years) seals. There was no evidence of age-associated changes in lipid peroxidation or enzymatic antioxidant profiles. In pectoralis, 4-hydroxynonenal-Lys (4-HNE-Lys) levels increased 1.5-fold in old versus young seals, but lipid hydroperoxide levels and apoptotic index did not vary with age. Glutathione peroxidase activity was 1.5-fold higher in pectoralis of old versus young animals, but no other antioxidants changed with age in this muscle. With respect to sex, no differences in lipid hydroperoxides or apoptosis were observed in either muscle. Males had higher HSP70 expression (1.4-fold) and glutathione peroxidase activity (1.3-fold) than females in longissismus dorsi, although glutathione reductase activity was 1.4-fold higher in females. No antioxidants varied with sex in pectoralis. These results show that apoptosis is not associated with oxidative stress in aged Weddell seal muscles. Additionally, the data suggest that adult seals utilize sex-specific antioxidant strategies in longissismus dorsi but not pectoralis to protect skeletal muscles from oxidative damage.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Allen, K. N., Vzquez-Medina, J. P., Lawler, J. M., Mellish, J., Horning, M., & Hindle, A. G.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Allen, Kaitlin N||Vázquez-Medina, José Pablo||Lawler, John M||Mellish, Jo-Ann E||Horning, Markus||Hindle, Allyson G

publication date

  • January 2019