Oxidative stress and advancing age: results in healthy centenarians

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jul;46(7):833-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1998.tb02716.x.


Objective: Our study aims at investigating the degree of oxidative stress in centenarians

Design: Indices of oxidative stress (reaction products of malondialdehyde with thiobarbituric acid (TBARS) and lipid hydroperoxides (LPO)), and plasma concentrations of antioxidant defenses (plasma vitamin E and C concentrations and reduced/oxidized glutathione ratio (GSH/GSSG)) were determined.

Subjects: Eighty-two subjects volunteered for the study. They were divided into three groups: (1) adults (<50 years of age, n=30); (2) aged subjects (70-99 years, n=30); (3) centenarians (age > or=100 years, n=22).

Measurements: TBARS and LPO, plasma vitamin E and C concentrations, and plasma GSH/GSSG ratio were determined. Insulin action was assessed by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp.

Main results: TBARS (0.44+/-0.07 vs 0.31+/-.05 nmol malondialdehyde/mL plasma, P=.020) and LPO (0.36+/-0.05 vs 0.31+/-.04 micromol/L, P=.050) were lower in centenarians than in aged subjects. In contrast, plasma GSH/GSSG ratio (0.82+/-0.09 vs 1.17+/-.06, P=.010), vitamin C (72.3+/-4.6 vs 59.4+/-3.8 micromol/L P=.010), and vitamin E (29.1+/-2.2 vs 24.4+/-2.3 micromol/L P=.050) concentrations were more elevated in centenarians than in aged subjects. Differences in daily vegetable intake, in fasting plasma glucose and free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations, and in insulin action are significant determinants of degree of oxidative stress. A specific genetic background in centenarians might also provide a possible explanation.

Conclusions: The degree of oxidative stress is lower in healthy centenarians than in aged subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over / physiology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Fasting / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reference Values


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified