An update of the oxidation-inflammation theory of aging: the involvement of the immune system in oxi-inflamm-aging

Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(26):3003-26. doi: 10.2174/138161209789058110.


The aging process is one of the best examples of the effects of a deterioration of homeostasis, since aging is accompanied by an impairment of the physiological systems including the homeostatic systems such as the immune system. We propose an integrative theory of aging providing answers to the how (oxidation), where first (mitochondria of differentiated cells) and why (pleiotropic genes) this process occurs. In agreement with this oxidation-mitochondrial theory of aging, we have observed that the age-related changes of immune functions have as their basis an oxidative and inflammatory stress situation, which has among its intracellular mechanisms the activation of NFkappaB in immune cells. Moreover, we have also observed that several functions of immune cells are good markers of biological age and predictors of longevity. Based on the above we have proposed the theory of oxidation-inflammation as the main cause of aging. Accordingly, the chronic oxidative stress that appears with age affects all cells and especially those of the regulatory systems, such as the nervous, endocrine and immune systems and the communication between them. This fact prevents an adequate homeostasis and, therefore, the preservation of health. We have also proposed a key involvement of the immune system in the aging process of the organism, concretely in the rate of aging, since there is a relation between the redox state and functional capacity of the immune cells and the longevity of individuals. Moreover, the role of the immune system in senescence could be of universal application. A confirmation of the central role of the immune system in oxi-inflamm-aging is that the administration of adequate amounts of antioxidants in the diet, improves the immune functions, decreasing their oxidative stress, and consequently increases the longevity of the subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / immunology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / immunology*


  • Antioxidants