Superoxide dismutase and catalase: tissue activities and relation with age in the long-lived species Margaritifera margaritifera
Free radicals are extremely reactive and produce damage and modify cell functions. Furthermore, superoxide dismutase and catalase are believed to play a key role in the enzymatic defence of the cells. Indeed, some authors have argued that reduced free-radical damage could explain increased longevity. Margaritifera margaritifera is one of the longest-lived animals in the world (up to 100-200 years). Furthermore, this organism may serve as a useful model for gerontologists interested in exploring the mechanisms that promote long life and the slowing of senescence. The present study estimated for the first time individual enzymatic activity for superoxide dismutase isozymes (Cu,Zn-SOD and Mn-SOD) and catalase in tissue preparations of gills, digestive glands and mantles of two natural populations of M. margaritifera. Superoxide dismutase activities showed significant differences in the tissues analysed of specimens from the same river and in specimens from different rivers for the same tissue. Catalase activity levels also showed significant variation, but differences among tissues, within tissues or between rivers were of relatively little interest. We failed to find any relationship between individual enzymatic activities and the age estimated for each mussel. Indeed, the wide variation found in activity levels can be principally interpreted as an adaptation to the unpredictable and changing nature of freshwater natural habitats.