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Aging: Is Oxidative Stress a Marker or Is It Causal?

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Rapid developments in free radical biology and molecular technology have permitted exploration of the free radical theory of aging. Oxidative stress has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of diseases. Studies have found evidence of oxidative damage to macromolecules (DNA, lipids, protein), and data in transgenic Drosophila melanogaster support the hypothesis that oxidative injury might directly cause the aging process. Additional links between oxidative stress and aging focus on mitochondria, leading to development of the mitochondrial theory of aging. However, despite the number of studies describing the association of markers of oxidative damage with advancing age, few, if any definitively link oxidative injury to altered energy production or cellular function. Although a causal role for oxidative stress in the aging process has not been clearly established, this does not preclude attempts to reduce oxidative injury as a means to reduce morbidity and perhaps increase the healthy, useful life span of an individual. This review highlights studies demonstrating enhanced oxidative stress with advancing age and stresses the importance of the balance between oxidants as mediators of disease and important components of signal transduction pathways.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-12-01

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