Age-related changes in the lipid compositions of rat and human tissues.

The levels of cholesterol, ubiquinone, dolichol, dolichyl-P, and total phospholipids in human lung, heart, spleen, liver, kidney, pancreas, and adrenal from individuals from one-day-old to 81 years of age were investigated and compared with the corresponding organs from 2 to 300 day-old rats. The amount of cholesterol in human tissues did not change significantly during aging, but the level of this lipid in the rat was moderately elevated in the organs of the oldest animals. In human pancreas and adrenal the ubiquinone content was highest at one year of age, whereas in other organs the corresponding peak value was at 20 years of age, and was followed by a continuous decrease upon further aging. A similar pattern was observed in the rats, with the highest concentration of ubiquinone being observed at 30 days of age. Dolichol levels in human tissues increase with aging, but they increase to very different extents. In the lungs this increase is seven-fold, and in the pancreas it is 150-fold. The elevation in the dolichol contents of rat tissues ranges from 20 to 30-fold in our material. In contrast, the levels of the phosphorylated derivative of dolichol increased to a more limited extent, i.e., 2 to 6-fold in human tissues and even less in the rat. These results demonstrate that the levels of a number of lipids in human and rat organs are modified in a characteristic manner during the life-span. This is in contrast to phospholipids, which constitute the bulk of the cellular lipid mass.