Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated by a variety of sources from the environment (e.g., photo-oxidations and emissions) and normal cellular functions (e.g., mitochondrial metabolism and neutrophil activation). ROS include free radicals (e.g., superoxide and hydroxyl radicals), nonradical oxygen species (e.g., hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite) and reactive lipids and carbohydrates (e. g., ketoaldehydes, hydroxynonenal). Oxidative damage to DNA can occur by many routes including the oxidative modification of the nucleotide bases, sugars, or by forming crosslinks. Such modifications can lead to mutations, pathologies, cellular aging and death. Oxidation of proteins appears to play a causative role in many chronic diseases of aging including cataractogenesis, rheumatoid arthritis, and various neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Our goal is to elucidate the mechanism(s) by which oxidative modification results in the disease. These studies have shown that (a) cells from old individuals are more susceptible to oxidative damage than cells from young donors; (b) oxidative protein modification is not random; (c) some of the damage can be prevented by antioxidants, but there is an age-dependent difference; and (d) an age-related impairment of recognition and destruction of modified proteins exists. It is believed that mechanistic insight into oxidative damage will allow prevention or intervention such that these insults are not inevitable. Our studies are also designed to identify the proteins which are most susceptible to ROS damage and to use these as potential biomarkers for the early diagnosis of diseases such as AD. For example, separation of proteins from cells or tissues on one- and two-dimensional gels followed by staining for both total protein and specifically oxidized residues (e.g., nitrotyrosine) may allow identification of biomarkers for AD.