Oxidative stress and aging: beyond correlation

Aging Cell. 2002 Dec;1(2):117-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1474-9728.2002.00015.x.


The oxidative stress theory of aging has become increasingly accepted as playing a role in the aging process, based primarily on a substantial accumulation of circumstantial evidence. In recent years, the hypothesis that mitochondrially generated reactive oxygen species play a role in organismal aging has been directly tested in both invertebrate and mammalian model systems. Initial results imply that oxidative damage, specifically the level of superoxide, does play a role in limiting the lifespans of invertebrates such as Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. In mammalian model systems, the effect of oxidative stress on lifespan is less clear, but there is evidence that antioxidant treatment protects against age-related dysfunction, including cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Free Radicals / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / metabolism
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals