Membrane potential and delta pH dependency of reverse electron transport-associated hydrogen peroxide production in brain and heart mitochondria

Tímea Komlódi, Fanni F. Geibl, Matilde Sassani, Attila Ambrus, László Tretter

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Succinate-driven reverse electron transport (RET) is one of the main sources of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) in ischemia-reperfusion injury. RET is dependent on mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and transmembrane pH difference (ΔpH), components of the proton motive force (pmf); a decrease in Δψm and/or ΔpH inhibits RET. In this study we aimed to determine which component of the pmf displays the more dominant effect on RET-provoked ROS generation in isolated guinea pig brain and heart mitochondria respiring on succinate or α-glycerophosphate (α-GP). Δψm was detected via safranin fluorescence and a TPP+ electrode, the rate of H2O2 formation was measured by Amplex UltraRed, the intramitochondrial pH (pHin) was assessed via BCECF fluorescence. Ionophores were used to dissect the effects of the two components of pmf. The K+/H+ exchanger, nigericin lowered pHin and ΔpH, followed by a compensatory increase in Δψm that led to an augmented H2O2 production. Valinomycin, a K+ ionophore, at low [K+] increased ΔpH and pHin, decreased Δψm, which resulted in a decline in H2O2 formation. It was concluded that Δψm is dominant over ∆pH in modulating the succinate- and α-GP-evoked RET. The elevation of extramitochondrial pH was accompanied by an enhanced H2O2 release and a decreased ∆pH. This phenomenon reveals that from the pH component not ∆pH, but rather absolute value of pH has higher impact on the rate of mtROS formation. Minor decrease of Δψm might be applied as a therapeutic strategy to attenuate RET-driven ROS generation in ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-365
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018



  • Alpha-glycerophosphate
  • Membrane potential
  • Mitochondria
  • Nigericin
  • Proton motive force
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Reverse electron transport
  • Succinate
  • Valinomycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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