Oxidative damage and age-related functional declines

Mech Ageing Dev. 2006 May;127(5):411-23. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2006.01.008. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Most organisms experience progressive declines in physiological function as they age. Since this senescence of function is thought to underlie the decrease in quality of life in addition to the increase in susceptibility to disease and death associated with aging, identifying the mechanisms involved would be highly beneficial. One of the leading mechanistic theories for aging is the oxidative damage hypothesis. A number of studies in a variety of species support a strong link between oxidative damage and life span determination. The role of oxidative damage in functional senescence has also been investigated, albeit not as comprehensively. Here, we review these investigations. Several studies show that the age-related loss of a number of functions is associated with an accrual of oxidative damage in the tissues mediating those functions. Additionally, treatments that increase the accumulation of oxidative damage with age frequently exacerbate functional losses. Moreover, treatments that reduce the accumulation of oxidative damage often attenuate or delay the loss of function associated with aging. These data provide the foundation for a link between oxidative damage and functional senescence, thereby supporting the oxidative damage hypothesis of aging within the context of age-related functional decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System / pathology
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Oxygen / metabolism


  • Oxygen