This site is an archive of a closed Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, provided for educational and historical purposes. Please note that this content is not routinely updated and that contact information and social links may not work.

Cardiac Cytochrome c Oxidase Activity and Contents of Subunits 1 and 4 Are Altered in Offspring by Low Prenatal Copper Intake

It has been reported previously that the offspring of rat dams consuming low dietary copper (Cu) during pregnancy and lactation experience a deficiency in cardiac cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) characterized by reduced catalytic activity and mitochondrial and nuclear subunit content after postnatal d 10. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the cardiac CCO deficiency was caused directly by low postnatal Cu intake or whether it was a prenatal effect of low Cu intake by the dams that became manifest postnatally. Dams were fed either a Cu-adequate diet (6 mg Cu/kg) or Cu-deficient diet (1 mg Cu/kg) beginning 3 wk before conception and throughout gestation and lactation. One day following parturition, several litters from Cu-adequate dams were cross fostered to Cu-deficient dams and several litters from Cu-deficient dams were cross fostered to Cu-adequate dams. Litters that remained with their birth dams served as controls. CCO activity, the content of the mitochondrial-encoded CCO subunit 1 (COX1), and the content of the nuclear-encoded subunit COX4 in cardiac mitochondria were reduced in the 21-d-old offspring of Cu-deficient dams. COX1 content was normal in the 21-d-old cross-fostered offspring of Cu-deficient dams, but CCO activity and COX4 were reduced. Cross fostering the offspring of Cu-adequate dams to Cu-deficient dams did not significantly affect CCO activity, COX1 content, or COX4 content in cardiac mitochondria of 21-d-old offspring. These data indicate that low prenatal Cu intake by dams was the determinant of CCO activity in cardiac mitochondria of the 21-d-old offspring and may have led to the assembly of a less-than-fully active holoenzyme.