Individuals with higher metabolic rates have lower levels of reactive oxygen species in vivo

Karine Salin (Lead / Corresponding author), Sonya K. Auer, Agata M. Rudolf, Graeme J. Anderson, Andrew G. Cairns, William Mullen, Richard C. Hartley, Colin Selman, Neil B. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


There is increasing interest in the effect of energy metabolism on oxidative stress, but much ambiguity over the relationship between the rate of oxygen consumption and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Production of ROS (such as hydrogen peroxide, H2O2) in the mitochondria is primarily inferred indirectly from measurements in vitro, which may not reflect actual ROS production in living animals. Here, we measured in vivo H2O2 content using the recently developed MitoB probe that becomes concentrated in the mitochondria of living organisms, where it is converted by H2O2 into an alternative form termed MitoP; the ratio of MitoP/MitoB indicates the level of mitochondrial H2O2 in vivo. Using the brown trout Salmo trutta, we tested whether this measurement of in vivo H2O2 content over a 24 h-period was related to interindividual variation in standard metabolic rate (SMR). We showed that the H2O2 content varied up to 26-fold among fish of the same age and under identical environmental conditions and nutritional states. Interindividual variation in H2O2 content was unrelated to mitochondrial density but was significantly associated with SMR: fish with a higher massindependent SMR had a lower level of H2O2. The mechanism underlying this observed relationship between SMR and in vivo H2O2 content requires further investigation, but may implicate mitochondrial uncoupling which can simultaneously increase SMR but reduce ROS production. To our knowledge, this is the first study in living organisms to show that individuals with higher oxygen consumption rates can actually have lower levels of H2O2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150538
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number9
Early online date1 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2015


  • Fish
  • Inter-individual variation
  • MitoP/mitoB ratio
  • Oxidative stress
  • Oxygen consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Individuals with higher metabolic rates have lower levels of reactive oxygen species in vivo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this