Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) are produced by several endogenous and exogenous processes, and their negative effects are neutralized by antioxidant defenses. Oxidative stress occurs from the imbalance between RONS production and these antioxidant defenses. Aging is a process characterized by the progressive loss of tissue and organ function. The oxidative stress theory of aging is based on the hypothesis that age-associated functional losses are due to the accumulation of RONS-induced damages. At the same time, oxidative stress is involved in several age-related conditions (ie, cardiovascular diseases [CVDs], chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer), including sarcopenia and frailty. Different types of oxidative stress biomarkers have been identified and may provide important information about the efficacy of the treatment, guiding the selection of the most effective drugs/dose regimens for patients and, if particularly relevant from a pathophysiological point of view, acting on a specific therapeutic target. Given the important role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of many clinical conditions and aging, antioxidant therapy could positively affect the natural history of several diseases, but further investigation is needed to evaluate the real efficacy of these therapeutic interventions. The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of literature on this complex topic of ever increasing interest.
Keywords: antioxidants; elderly; reactive nitrogen species; reactive oxygen species.