Repair of oxidative DNA damage in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, and some changes with aging in mammalian cells

Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 May 1;32(9):804-12. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(02)00787-6.


Exposure to exogenous and endogenous sources cause oxidative damage to cellular macromolecules, including DNA. This results in gradual accumulation of oxidative DNA base lesions, and in order to maintain genomic stability we must have effective systems to repair this kind of damage. The accumulation of lesions is most dramatic in the mitochondrial DNA, and this may cause dysfunction and loss of cellular energy production. Base excision DNA repair (BER) is the major pathway that removes oxidative DNA base lesions, and while we know much about its mechanism in the nuclear DNA, little is yet known about this pathway in mitochondria. While nuclear BER decreases with age, the mitochondrial DNA repair may increase with age. This increase is not enough to prevent the gradual accumulation of lesions in the mitochondrial DNA with age. Accumulation of DNA lesions with age may be the underlying cause for age-associated diseases including cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Guanine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 8-hydroxyguanine
  • Guanine