Contractions of skeletal muscles produce increases in concentrations of superoxide anions and activity of hydroxyl radicals in the extracellular space. The sources of these reactive oxygen species are not clear. We tested the hypothesis that, after a demanding isometric contraction protocol, the major source of superoxide and hydroxyl radical activity in the extracellular space of muscles is mitochondrial generation of superoxide anions and that, with a reduction in MnSOD activity, concentration of superoxide anions in the extracellular space is unchanged but concentration of hydroxyl radicals is decreased. For gastrocnemius muscles from adult (6-8 mo old) wild-type (Sod2+/+) mice and knockout mice heterozygous for the MnSOD gene (Sod2+/-), concentrations of superoxide anions and hydroxyl radical activity were measured in the extracellular space by microdialysis. A 15-min protocol of 180 isometric contractions induced a rapid, equivalent increase in reduction of cytochrome c as an index of superoxide anion concentrations in the extracellular space of Sod2+/+ and Sod2+/- mice, whereas hydroxyl radical activity measured by formation of 2,3-dihydroxybenzoate from salicylate increased only in the extracellular space of muscles of Sod2 +/+ mice. The lack of a difference in increase in superoxide anion concentration in the extracellular space of Sod2+/+ and Sod2 +/- mice after the contraction protocol supported the hypothesis that superoxide anions were not directly derived from mitochondria. In contrast, the data obtained suggest that the increase in hydroxyl radical concentration in the extracellular space of muscles from wild-type mice after the contraction protocol most likely results from degradation of hydrogen peroxide generated by MnSOD activity.
- Hydroxyl radicals