A Long Journey into Aging, Brain Aging, and Alzheimer's Disease Following the Oxidative Stress Tracks

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(3):1319-1335. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170732.


The Editors of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease invited Professor Patrizia Mecocci to contribute a review article focused on the importance and implications of her research on aging, brain aging, and senile dementias over the last years. This invitation was based on an assessment that she was one of the journal's top authors and a strong supporter of the concept that oxidative stress is a major contributor to several alterations observed in age-related conditions (sarcopenia, osteoporosis) and, more significantly, in brain aging suggesting a pivotal role in the pathogenesis and progression of one of the most dramatic age-related diseases, Alzheimer's disease (AD). Her first pioneering research was on the discovery of high level of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (OH8dG), a marker of oxidation in nucleic acids, in mitochondrial DNA isolated from cerebral cortex. This molecule increases progressively with aging and more in AD brain, supporting the hypothesis that oxidative stress, a condition of unbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants, gives a strong contribution to the high incidence of AD in old age subjects. OH8dG also increases in peripheral lymphocyte from AD subjects, suggesting that AD is not only a cerebral but also a systemic disease. The role of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E and zinc, were also studied in longevity and in cognitive decline and dementia. This review shows the main findings from Mecocci's laboratory related to oxidative stress in aging, brain aging, and AD and discusses the importance and implications of some of the major achievements in this field of research.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; antioxidant; brain aging; dementia; mitochondria; oxidative stress; vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*