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1.  Thioredoxin, oxidative stress, cancer and aging 
The Free Radical or Oxidative Stress Theory of Aging is one of the most popular theories in aging research and has been extensively studied over the past several decades. However, recent evidence using transgenic/knockout mice that overexpress or down-regulate antioxidant enzymes challenge the veracity of this theory since the animals show no increase or decrease in lifespan. These results seriously call into question the role of oxidative damage/stress in the aging process in mammals. Therefore, the theory requires significant modifications if we are to understand the relationship between aging and the regulation of oxidative stress. Our laboratory has been examining the impacts of thioredoxins (Trxs), in the cytosol and mitochondria, on aging and age-related diseases. Our data from mice that are either up-regulating or down-regulating Trx in different cellular compartments, that is, the cytosol or mitochondria, could shed some light on the role of oxidative stress and its pathophysiological effects. The results generated from our lab and others may indicate that: 1) changes in oxidative stress and the redox state in the cytosol, mitochondria or nucleus might play different roles in the aging process; 2) the role of oxidative stress and redox state could have different pathophysiological consequences in different tissues/cells, for example, mitotic vs. post-mitotic; 3) oxidative stress could have different pathophysiological impacts in young and old animals; and 4) the pathophysiological roles of oxidative stress and redox state could be controlled through changes in redox-sensitive signaling, which could have more diverse effects on pathophysiology than the accumulation of oxidative damage to various molecules. To critically test the role of oxidative stress on aging and age-related diseases, further study is required using animal models that regulate oxidative stress levels differently in each cellular compartment, each tissue/organ, and/or at different stages of life (young, middle and old) to change redox sensitive signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3886257
Thioredoxin; Transgenic mouse; Knockout mouse; Oxidative stress; Cancer; aging
2.  Update on the oxidative stress theory of aging: Does oxidative stress play a role in aging or healthy aging? 
The oxidative stress theory of aging predicts that manipulations that alter oxidative stress/damage will alter aging. The gold standard for determining whether aging is altered is lifespan, i.e., does altering oxidative stress/damage change lifespan? Mice with genetic manipulations in the antioxidant defense system designed to directly address this prediction have, with few exceptions, shown no change in lifespan. However, when these transgenic/knockout mice are tested using models that develop various types of age-related pathology, they show alterations in progression and/or severity of pathology as predicted by the oxidative stress theory; increased oxidative stress accelerates pathology and reduced oxidative stress retards pathology. These contradictory observations might mean a) oxidative stress plays a very limited, if any, role in aging but a major role in healthspan; and/or b) the role that oxidative stress plays in aging depends on environment. In environments with minimal stress, as expected under optimal husbandry, oxidative damage plays little role in aging. However, under chronic stress, including pathological phenotypes that diminish optimal health, oxidative stress/damage plays a major role in aging. Under these conditions, enhanced antioxidant defenses exert an “anti-aging” action, leading to changes in lifespan, age-related pathology, and physiological function as predicted by the oxidative stress theory of aging.
PMCID: PMC2819595  PMID: 20036736
oxidative stress; aging; disease; lifespan; healthspan
3.  Oxidative Stress in Ischemic Brain Damage: Mechanisms of Cell Death and Potential Molecular Targets for Neuroprotection 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(8):1505-1517.
Significant amounts of oxygen free radicals (oxidants) are generated during cerebral ischemia/reperfusion, and oxidative stress plays an important role in brain damage after stroke. In addition to oxidizing macromolecules, leading to cell injury, oxidants are also involved in cell death/survival signal pathways and cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Experimental data from laboratory animals that either overexpress (transgenic) or are deficient in (knock-out) antioxidant proteins, mainly superoxide dismutase, have provided strong evidence of the role of oxidative stress in ischemic brain damage. In addition to mitochondria, recent reports demonstrate that NADPH oxidase (NOX), an important pro-oxidant enzyme, is also involved in the generation of oxidants in the brain after stroke. Inhibition of NOX is neuroprotective against cerebral ischemia. We propose that superoxide dismutase and NOX activity in the brain is a major determinant for ischemic damage/repair and that these major anti- and pro-oxidant enzymes are potential endogenous molecular targets for stroke therapy. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1505–1517.
PMCID: PMC3061196  PMID: 20812869
4.  Walking the Oxidative Stress Tightrope: A Perspective from the Naked Mole-Rat, the Longest-Living Rodent 
Current pharmaceutical design  2011;17(22):2290-2307.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), by-products of aerobic metabolism, cause oxidative damage to cells and tissue and not surprisingly many theories have arisen to link ROS-induced oxidative stress to aging and health. While studies clearly link ROS to a plethora of divergent diseases, their role in aging is still debatable. Genetic knock-down manipulations of antioxidants alter the levels of accrued oxidative damage, however, the resultant effect of increased oxidative stress on lifespan are equivocal. Similarly the impact of elevating antioxidant levels through transgenic manipulations yield inconsistent effects on longevity. Furthermore, comparative data from a wide range of endotherms with disparate longevity remain inconclusive. Many long-living species such as birds, bats and mole-rats exhibit high-levels of oxidative damage, evident already at young ages. Clearly, neither the amount of ROS per se nor the sensitivity in neutralizing ROS are as important as whether or not the accrued oxidative stress leads to oxidative-damage-linked age-associated diseases. In this review we examine the literature on ROS, its relation to disease and the lessons gleaned from a comparative approach based upon species with widely divergent responses. We specifically focus on the longest lived rodent, the naked mole-rat, which maintains good health and provides novel insights into the paradox of maintaining both an extended healthspan and lifespan despite high oxidative stress from a young age.
PMCID: PMC3980719  PMID: 21736541
Comparative biology of aging; mitochondria; naked mole-rat; oxidative stress; proteasome; autophagy; reactive oxygen species
5.  Overexpression of Mn Superoxide Dismutase Does Not Increase Life Span in Mice 
Genetic manipulations of Mn superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), SOD2 expression have demonstrated that altering the level of MnSOD activity is critical for cellular function and life span in invertebrates. In mammals, Sod2 homozygous knockout mice die shortly after birth, and alterations of MnSOD levels are correlated with changes in oxidative damage and in the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. In this study, we directly tested the effects of overexpressing MnSOD in young (4–6 months) and old (26–28 months) mice on mitochondrial function, levels of oxidative damage or stress, life span, and end-of-life pathology. Our data show that an approximately twofold overexpression of MnSOD throughout life in mice resulted in decreased lipid peroxidation, increased resistance against paraquat-induced oxidative stress, and decreased age-related decline in mitochondrial ATP production. However, this change in MnSOD expression did not alter either life span or age-related pathology.
PMCID: PMC2759571  PMID: 19633237
Oxidative damage; Mn superoxide dismutase; Pathology; Aging
6.  New directions for studying the role of free radicals in aging 
Age  1997;20(3):151-163.
Oxidative damage caused by free radicals in vivo is believed to play an important role in the etiology of aging and age-associated degenerative diseases. The most direct evidence supporting this theory is the recent finding that the transgenic Drosophila that overexpress the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase exhibit an increase in life span. Although the increase in life span in Drosophila by these enzymes is certainly important, the next logical direction is to demonstrate whether increased antioxidant protection occurs similarly in mammals. Several transgenic mouse models that overexpress antioxidant enzymes are currently available. However, one major shortcoming in using these transgenic mice is the difficulty of producing antioxidant overexpression in more than a few tissues. Despite the potential shortcomings of using transgenic mice, these animals provide a unique system in which individual components of a complex system, such as the antioxidant defense system, can be modulated and examined independently. Transgenic mice are therefore potentially powerful tools to study the role of various components of the antioxidant system in the aging process.
A parallel direction in the study of free radical roles in aging is to investigate the modulation of transcription factors by oxidative stress. Among these, the transcription factors, NF-κB and AP-1 are implicated in oxidative stress. The activities of these oxidative stress-response transcription factors are regulated by upstream signaling molecules, which involve a cascade of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation events leading to their activation. In this article, we review recent studies that use molecular approaches to investigate the biological role of oxidant stress. Each of these studies potentially provide new insights into the roles of free radicals and free radical damage in the aging process.
PMCID: PMC3455893  PMID: 23604307
Oxidative stress; Transcription factors; Antioxidant defense; Transgenic mice; Overexpression and deletion of genes; Signal transduction
7.  A Model of Oxidative Stress Management: Moderation of Carbohydrate Metabolizing Enzymes in SOD1-Null Drosophila melanogaster 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24518.
The response to oxidative stress involves numerous genes and mutations in these genes often manifest in pleiotropic ways that presumably reflect perturbations in ROS-mediated physiology. The Drosophila melanogaster SOD1-null allele (cSODn108) is proposed to result in oxidative stress by preventing superoxide breakdown. In SOD1-null flies, oxidative stress management is thought to be reliant on the glutathione-dependent antioxidants that utilize NADPH to cycle between reduced and oxidized form. Previous studies suggest that SOD1-null Drosophila rely on lipid catabolism for energy rather than carbohydrate metabolism. We tested these connections by comparing the activity of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes, lipid and triglyceride concentration, and steady state NADPH:NADP+ in SOD1-null and control transgenic rescue flies. We find a negative shift in the activity of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes in SOD1-nulls and the NADP+-reducing enzymes were found to have significantly lower activity than the other enzymes assayed. Little evidence for the catabolism of lipids as preferential energy source was found, as the concentration of lipids and triglycerides were not significantly lower in SOD1-nulls compared with controls. Using a starvation assay to impact lipids and triglycerides, we found that lipids were indeed depleted in both genotypes when under starvation stress, suggesting that oxidative damage was not preventing the catabolism of lipids in SOD1-null flies. Remarkably, SOD1-nulls were also found to be relatively resistant to starvation. Age profiles of enzyme activity, triglyceride and lipid concentration indicates that the trends observed are consistent over the average lifespan of the SOD1-nulls. Based on our results, we propose a model of physiological response in which organisms under oxidative stress limit the production of ROS through the down-regulation of carbohydrate metabolism in order to moderate the products exiting the electron transport chain.
PMCID: PMC3164733  PMID: 21909438
8.  Mitochondrial Changes in Ageing Caenorhabditis elegans – What Do We Learn from Superoxide Dismutase Knockouts? 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19444.
One of the most popular damage accumulation theories of ageing is the mitochondrial free radical theory of ageing (mFRTA). The mFRTA proposes that ageing is due to the accumulation of unrepaired oxidative damage, in particular damage to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Within the mFRTA, the “vicious cycle” theory further proposes that reactive oxygen species (ROS) promote mtDNA mutations, which then lead to a further increase in ROS production. Recently, data have been published on Caenorhabditis elegans mutants deficient in one or both forms of mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD). Surprisingly, even double mutants, lacking both mitochondrial forms of SOD, show no reduction in lifespan. This has been interpreted as evidence against the mFRTA because it is assumed that these mutants suffer from significantly elevated oxidative damage to their mitochondria. Here, using a novel mtDNA damage assay in conjunction with related, well established damage and metabolic markers, we first investigate the age-dependent mitochondrial decline in a cohort of ageing wild-type nematodes, in particular testing the plausibility of the “vicious cycle” theory. We then apply the methods and insights gained from this investigation to a mutant strain for C. elegans that lacks both forms of mitochondrial SOD. While we show a clear age-dependent, linear increase in oxidative damage in WT nematodes, we find no evidence for autocatalytic damage amplification as proposed by the “vicious cycle” theory. Comparing the SOD mutants with wild-type animals, we further show that oxidative damage levels in the mtDNA of SOD mutants are not significantly different from those in wild-type animals, i.e. even the total loss of mitochondrial SOD did not significantly increase oxidative damage to mtDNA. Possible reasons for this unexpected result and some implications for the mFRTA are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3097207  PMID: 21611128
9.  Oxidative Stress, Caloric Restriction, and Aging 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  1996;273(5271):59-63.
Under normal physiological conditions, the use of oxygen by cells of aerobic organisms generates potentially deleterious reactive oxygen metabolites. A chronic state of oxidative stress exists in cells because of an imbalance between prooxidants and antioxidants. The amount of oxidative damage increases as an organism ages and is postulated to be a major causal factor of senescence. Support for this hypothesis includes the following observations: (i) Overexpression of antioxidative enzymes retards the age-related accrual of oxidative damage and extends the maximum life-span of transgenic Drosophila melanogaster. (ii) Variations in longevity among different species inversely correlate with the rates of mitochondrial generation of the superoxide anion radical O2⋅− and hydrogen peroxide, (iii) Restriction of caloric intake lowers steady-state levels of oxidative stress and damage, retards age-associated changes, and extends the maximum life-span in mammals.
PMCID: PMC2987625  PMID: 8658196
10.  Deletion of the Mitochondrial Superoxide Dismutase sod-2 Extends Lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(2):e1000361.
The oxidative stress theory of aging postulates that aging results from the accumulation of molecular damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during normal metabolism. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) counteract this process by detoxifying superoxide. It has previously been shown that elimination of either cytoplasmic or mitochondrial SOD in yeast, flies, and mice results in decreased lifespan. In this experiment, we examine the effect of eliminating each of the five individual sod genes present in Caenorhabditis elegans. In contrast to what is observed in other model organisms, none of the sod deletion mutants shows decreased lifespan compared to wild-type worms, despite a clear increase in sensitivity to paraquat- and juglone-induced oxidative stress. In fact, even mutants lacking combinations of two or three sod genes survive at least as long as wild-type worms. Examination of gene expression in these mutants reveals mild compensatory up-regulation of other sod genes. Interestingly, we find that sod-2 mutants are long-lived despite a significant increase in oxidatively damaged proteins. Testing the effect of sod-2 deletion on known pathways of lifespan extension reveals a clear interaction with genes that affect mitochondrial function: sod-2 deletion markedly increases lifespan in clk-1 worms while clearly decreasing the lifespan of isp-1 worms. Combined with the mitochondrial localization of SOD-2 and the fact that sod-2 mutant worms exhibit phenotypes that are characteristic of long-lived mitochondrial mutants—including slow development, low brood size, and slow defecation—this suggests that deletion of sod-2 extends lifespan through a similar mechanism. This conclusion is supported by our demonstration of decreased oxygen consumption in sod-2 mutant worms. Overall, we show that increased oxidative stress caused by deletion of sod genes does not result in decreased lifespan in C. elegans and that deletion of sod-2 extends worm lifespan by altering mitochondrial function.
Author Summary
In this paper, we examine the oxidative stress theory of aging using C. elegans as a model system. This theory proposes that aging results from the accumulation of molecular damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). To test this theory, we examined the effect of deleting each of the five individual superoxide dismutase (SOD) genes on lifespan and sensitivity to oxidative stress. Since SOD acts to detoxify ROS, the oxidative stress theory predicts that deletion of sod genes should increase oxidative stress and decrease lifespan. However, in contrast to yeast, flies, and mice, where loss of either cytoplasmic or mitochondrial SOD results in decreased lifespan, we find that none of the sod deletion mutants in C. elegans exhibits a shortened lifespan despite increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. Surprisingly, we find that sod-2 mutant worms have extended lifespan and even worms with the primary cytoplasmic, mitochondrial, and extracellular sod genes deleted can live longer than wild-type worms. By examining genetic interactions with other genes known to extend lifespan and by comparing the phenotype of worms lacking sod-2 to that of known long-lived mitochondrial mutants such as clk-1 or isp-1, we provide evidence that the loss of sod-2 extends lifespan through alteration of mitochondrial function.
PMCID: PMC2628729  PMID: 19197346
11.  Manipulating reproductive effort leads to changes in female reproductive scheduling but not oxidative stress 
Ecology and Evolution  2013;3(12):4161-4171.
The trade-off between reproductive investment and lifespan is the single most important concept in life-history theory. A variety of sources of evidence support the existence of this trade-off, but the physiological costs of reproduction that underlie this relationship remain poorly understood. The Free Radical Theory of Ageing suggests that oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of damaging Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and protective antioxidants, may be an important mediator of this trade-off. We sought to test this theory by manipulating the reproductive investment of female mice (Mus musculus domesticus) and measuring the effects on a number of life history and oxidative stress variables. Females with a greater reproductive load showed no consistent increase in oxidative damage above females who had a smaller reproductive load. The groups differed, however, in their food consumption, reproductive scheduling and mean offspring mass. Of particular note, females with a very high reproductive load delayed blastocyst implantation of their second litter, potentially mitigating the costs of energetically costly reproductive periods. Our results highlight that females use strategies to offset particularly costly periods of reproduction and illustrate the absence of a simple relationship between oxidative stress and reproduction.
PMCID: PMC3853561  PMID: 24324867
Ageing; aging; cost of reproduction; cross-foster; Free Radical Theory of ageing; life history; oxidative damage; postpartum pregnancy; senescence; trade-off
12.  Influence of Viral Vector–Mediated Delivery of Superoxide Dismutase and Catalase to the Hippocampus on Spatial Learning and Memory During Aging 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2012;16(4):339-350.
Aims: Studies employing transgenic mice indicate that overexpression of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) improves memory during aging. It is unclear whether the improvement is due to a lifetime of overexpression, decreasing the accumulation of oxidized molecules, or if increasing antioxidant enzymes in older animals could reduce oxidative damage and improve cognitive function. We used adeno-associated virus to deliver antioxidant enzymes (SOD1, SOD2, catalase [CAT], and SOD1+CAT) to the hippocampus of young (4 months) and aged (19 months) F344/BN F1 male rats and examined memory-related behavioral performance 1 month and 4 months postinjection. Results: Overexpression of antioxidant enzymes reduced oxidative damage; however, memory function was not related to the level of oxidative damage. Increased expression of SOD1, initiated in advanced age, impaired learning. Increased expression of SOD1+CAT provided protection from impairments associated with overexpression of SOD1 alone and appears to guard against cognitive impairments in advanced age. Innovation: Viral vector gene delivery provides a novel approach to test the hypothesis that increased expression of antioxidant enzymes, specifically in hippocampal neurons, will provide protection from age-related cognitive decline. Further, expression of multiple vectors permits more detailed investigation of mechanistic pathways. Conclusion: Oxidative stress is a likely component of aging; however, it is unclear whether increased production of reactive oxygen species or the accumulation of oxidative damage is the primary cause of functional decline. The results provide support for the idea that altered redox-sensitive signaling rather than the accumulation of damage may be of greater significance in the emergence of age-related learning and memory deficits. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 16, 339–350.
PMCID: PMC3246419  PMID: 21942371
13.  The nature and mechanism of superoxide production by the electron transport chain: Its relevance to aging 
Most biogerontologists agree that oxygen (and nitrogen) free radicals play a major role in the process of aging. The evidence strongly suggests that the electron transport chain, located in the inner mitochondrial membrane, is the major source of reactive oxygen species in animal cells. It has been reported that there exists an inverse correlation between the rate of superoxide/hydrogen peroxide production by mitochondria and the maximum longevity of mammalian species. However, no correlation or most frequently an inverse correlation exists between the amount of antioxidant enzymes and maximum longevity. Although overexpression of the antioxidant enzymes SOD1 and CAT (as well as SOD1 alone) have been successful at extending maximum lifespan in Drosophila, this has not been the case in mice. Several labs have overexpressed SOD1 and failed to see a positive effect on longevity. An explanation for this failure is that there is some level of superoxide damage that is not preventable by SOD, such as that initiated by the hydroperoxyl radical inside the lipid bilayer, and that accumulation of this damage is responsible for aging. I therefore suggest an alternative approach to testing the free radical theory of aging in mammals. Instead of trying to increase the amount of antioxidant enzymes, I suggest using molecular biology/transgenics to decrease the rate of superoxide production, which in the context of the free radical theory of aging would be expected to increase longevity. This paper aims to summarize what is known about the nature and mechanisms of superoxide production and what genes are involved in controlling the rate of superoxide production.
PMCID: PMC3455268  PMID: 23604868
14.  Caloric Restriction Shortens Lifespan through an Increase in Lipid Peroxidation, Inflammation and Apoptosis in the G93A Mouse, an Animal Model of ALS 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9386.
Caloric restriction (CR) extends lifespan through a reduction in oxidative stress, delays the onset of morbidity and prolongs lifespan. We previously reported that long-term CR hastened clinical onset, disease progression and shortened lifespan, while transiently improving motor performance in G93A mice, a model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that shows increased free radical production. To investigate the long-term CR-induced pathology in G93A mice, we assessed the mitochondrial bioenergetic efficiency and oxidative capacity (CS – citrate synthase content and activity, cytochrome c oxidase - COX activity and protein content of COX subunit- I and IV and UCP3- uncoupling protein 3), oxidative damage (MDA – malondialdehyde and PC – protein carbonyls), antioxidant enzyme capacity (Mn-SOD, Cu/Zn-SOD and catalase), inflammation (TNF-α), stress response (Hsp70) and markers of apoptosis (Bax, Bcl-2, caspase 9, cleaved caspase 9) in their skeletal muscle. At age 40 days, G93A mice were divided into two groups: Ad libitum (AL; n = 14; 7 females) or CR (n = 13; 6 females), with a diet equal to 60% of AL. COX/CS enzyme activity was lower in CR vs. AL male quadriceps (35%), despite a 2.3-fold higher COX-IV/CS protein content. UCP3 was higher in CR vs. AL females only. MnSOD and Cu/Zn-SOD were higher in CR vs. AL mice and CR vs. AL females. MDA was higher (83%) in CR vs. AL red gastrocnemius. Conversely, PC was lower in CR vs. AL red (62%) and white (30%) gastrocnemius. TNF-α was higher (52%) in CR vs. AL mice and Hsp70 was lower (62%) in CR vs. AL quadriceps. Bax was higher in CR vs. AL mice (41%) and CR vs. AL females (52%). Catalase, Bcl-2 and caspases did not differ. We conclude that CR increases lipid peroxidation, inflammation and apoptosis, while decreasing mitochondrial bioenergetic efficiency, protein oxidation and stress response in G93A mice.
PMCID: PMC2827549  PMID: 20195368
15.  Studies of Caenorhabditis elegans DAF-2/insulin signaling reveal targets for pharmacological manipulation of lifespan 
Aging Cell  2006;5(1):31-37.
Much excitement has arisen from the observation that decrements in insulin-like signaling can dramatically extend lifespan in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, and fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, there are tantalizing hints that the IGF-I pathway in mice may have similar effects. In addition to dramatic effects on lifespan, invertebrate insulin-like signaling also promotes changes in stress resistance, metabolism and development. Which, if any, of the various phenotypes of insulin pathway mutants are relevant to longevity? What are the genes that function in collaboration with insulin to prolong lifespan? These questions are at the heart of current research in C. elegans longevity. Two main theories exist as to the mechanism behind insulin's effects on invertebrate longevity. One theory is that insulin programs metabolic parameters that prolong or reduce lifespan. The other theory is that insulin determines the cell's ability to endure oxidative stress from respiration, thereby determining the rate of aging. However, these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and several studies seem to support a role for both. Here, we review recently published reports investigating the mechanisms behind insulin's dramatic effect on longevity. We also spotlight several C. elegans genes that are now known to interact with insulin signaling to determine lifespan. These insights into pathways affecting invertebrate lifespan may provide a basis for developing strategies for pharmacological manipulation of human lifespan.
PMCID: PMC1413578  PMID: 16441841
Aging; C. elegans; FOXO; insulin; lifespan; phosphoinositol 3-kinase
16.  Strategies for Reducing or Preventing the Generation of Oxidative Stress 
The reduction of oxidative stress could be achieved in three levels: by lowering exposure to environmental pollutants with oxidizing properties, by increasing levels of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants, or by lowering the generation of oxidative stress by stabilizing mitochondrial energy production and efficiency. Endogenous oxidative stress could be influenced in two ways: by prevention of ROS formation or by quenching of ROS with antioxidants. However, the results of epidemiological studies where people were treated with synthetic antioxidants are inconclusive and contradictory. Recent evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements (although highly recommended by the pharmaceutical industry and taken by many individuals) do not offer sufficient protection against oxidative stress, oxidative damage or increase the lifespan. The key to the future success of decreasing oxidative-stress-induced damage should thus be the suppression of oxidative damage without disrupting the wellintegrated antioxidant defense network. Approach to neutralize free radicals with antioxidants should be changed into prevention of free radical formation. Thus, this paper addresses oxidative stress and strategies to reduce it with the focus on nutritional and psychosocial interventions of oxidative stress prevention, that is, methods to stabilize mitochondria structure and energy efficiency, or approaches which would increase endogenous antioxidative protection and repair systems.
PMCID: PMC3236599  PMID: 22191011
17.  Oxidative damage, aging and anti-aging strategies 
Age  2005;27(3):183-199.
The last two decades brought remarkable insight into the nature of normal aging in multicellular organisms. However, we are still far away from realizing extension of maximum lifespan in humans. An important modulator of lifespan is oxidative damage induced by reactive species, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). Studies from yeast, Caenorhabditis and Drosophila primarily focused on (1) reduced generation or (2) elimination of ROS but have two principal shortcomings: (1) dietary restriction and single gene mutations are often associated with physiological impairments and (2) overexpression of components of the antioxidant system extend lifetime only under stress-induced conditions. Recent results from Drosophila indicate the involvement of an endogenous repair and elimination system for oxidatively damaged proteins in the process of aging. This system includes methionine sulfoxide reductase A (MSRA) and the carbonyl reductase Sniffer, the protein-ubiquitin ligase Parkin and the chaperone Hsp22. In this review we summarize different anti-aging strategies and discuss a synergistic interaction between protection against free radicals and specific repair/elimination of oxidative damage in lifespan extension primarily using the model system Drosophila. To achieve lifespan extension, available experiments are often methodically grouped into (1) caloric restriction, (2) single gene mutation, and (3) overexpression of genes. Here we summarize different strategies by a more causal classification: (1) prevention of ROS generation, (2) reducing free ROS level, and (3) repair and elimination of ROS-damaged proteins.
PMCID: PMC3458494  PMID: 23598652
antioxidant system; Drosophila; methionine sulfoxide reductases; oxidative stress theory of aging; protein oxidation; ROS
18.  Antioxidants in Down syndrome☆ 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2011;1822(5):657-663.
Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have high levels of oxidative stress throughout the lifespan. Mouse models of DS share some structural and functional abnormalities that parallel findings seen in the human phenotype. Several of the mouse models show evidence of cellular oxidative stress and have provided a platform for antioxidant intervention. Genes that are overexpressed on chromosome 21 are associated with oxidative stress and neuronal apoptosis. The lack of balance in the metabolism of free radicals generated during processes related to oxidative stress may have a direct role in producing the neuropathology of DS including the tendency to Alzheimer disease (AD). Mitochondria are often a target for oxidative stress and are considered to be a trigger for the onset of the AD process in DS. Biomarkers for oxidative stress have been described in DS and in AD in the general population. However, intervention trials using standard antioxidant supplements or diets have failed to produce uniform therapeutic effect. This chapter will examine the biological role of oxidative stress in DS and its relationship to abnormalities in both development and aging within the disorder. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Antioxidants and Antioxidant Treatment in Disease.
PMCID: PMC3408054  PMID: 22206998
Antioxidant; Oxidative stress; Down syndrome; Alzheimer disease; Antioxidant clinical trial; Mitochondrial disorder
19.  Sod2 knock-down in the musculature has whole organism consequences in Drosophila 
Free radical biology & medicine  2009;47(6):803-813.
Oxidative damage to cell macromolecules by reactive oxygen species is associated with numerous diseases and aging. In Drosophila, RNAi-mediated silencing of the mitochondrial antioxidant manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) throughout the body dramatically reduces life span, accelerates senescence of locomotor function, and enhances sensitivity to applied oxidative stress. Here, we show that Sod2 knock-down in the musculature alone is sufficient to cause the shortened life span and accelerated locomotor declines observed with knock-down of Sod2 throughout the body, indicating that Sod2 deficiency in muscle is central to these phenotypes. Knock-down of Sod2 in the muscle also increased caspase activity (a marker for apoptosis) and caused a mitochondrial pathology characterized by swollen mitochondria, decreased mitochondrial content and reduced ATP levels. These findings indicate that Sod2 plays a crucial role in the musculature in Drosophila and that the consequences of Sod2 loss in this tissue extend to the viability of the organism as a whole.
PMCID: PMC2739907  PMID: 19545620
Sod2; muscle; mitochondria
20.  The Interplay between Protein L-Isoaspartyl Methyltransferase Activity and Insulin-Like Signaling to Extend Lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20850.
The protein L-isoaspartyl-O-methyltransferase functions to initiate the repair of isomerized aspartyl and asparaginyl residues that spontaneously accumulate with age in a variety of organisms. Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes lacking the pcm-1 gene encoding this enzyme display a normal lifespan and phenotype under standard laboratory growth conditions. However, significant defects in development, egg laying, dauer survival, and autophagy have been observed in pcm-1 mutant nematodes when deprived of food and when exposed to oxidative stress. Interestingly, overexpression of this repair enzyme in both Drosophila and C. elegans extends adult lifespan under thermal stress. In this work, we show the involvement of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling (IIS) pathway in PCM-1-dependent lifespan extension in C. elegans. We demonstrate that reducing the levels of the DAF-16 downstream transcriptional effector of the IIS pathway by RNA interference reduces the lifespan extension resulting from PCM-1 overexpression. Using quantitative real-time PCR analysis, we show the up-regulation of DAF-16-dependent stress response genes in the PCM-1 overexpressor animals compared to wild-type and pcm-1 mutant nematodes under mild thermal stress conditions. Additionally, similar to other long-lived C. elegans mutants in the IIS pathway, including daf-2 and age-1 mutants, PCM-1 overexpressor adult animals display increased resistance to severe thermal stress, whereas pcm-1 mutant animals survive less long under these conditions. Although we observe a higher accumulation of damaged proteins in pcm-1 mutant nematodes, the basal level of isoaspartyl residues detected in wild-type animals was not reduced by PCM-1 overexpression. Our results support a signaling role for the protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase in lifespan extension that involves the IIS pathway, but that may be independent of its function in overall protein repair.
PMCID: PMC3113807  PMID: 21695191
21.  Increased Expression of Glutathione Peroxidase 4 Strongly Protects Retina from Oxidative Damage 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2009;11(4):715-724.
Oxidative damage contributes to cone cell death in retinitis pigmentosa and death of rods, cones, and retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells in age-related macular degeneration. In this study, we explored the strategy of overexpressing components of the endogenous antioxidant defense system to combat oxidative damage in RPE cells and retina. In transfected cultured RPE cells with increased expression of superoxide dismutase1 (SOD1) or SOD2, there was increased constitutive and stress-induced oxidative damage measured by the level of carbonyl adducts on proteins. In contrast, RPE cells with increased expression of glutathione peroxidase 1 (Gpx1) or Gpx4 did not show an increase in constitutive oxidative damage. An increase in Gpx4, and to a lesser extent Gpx1, reduced oxidative stress-induced RPE cell damage. Co-expression of Gpx4 with SOD1 or 2 partially reversed the deleterious effects of the SODs. Transgenic mice with inducible expression of Gpx4 in photoreceptors were generated, and in three models of oxidative damage-induced retinal degeneration, increased expression of Gpx4 provided strong protection of retinal structure and function. These data suggest that gene therapy approaches to augment the activity of Gpx4 in the retina and RPE should be considered in patients with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 11, 715–724.
PMCID: PMC2787833  PMID: 18823256
22.  Antioxidant enzyme activities are not broadly correlated with longevity in 14 vertebrate endotherm species 
Age  2010;32(2):255-270.
The free radical theory of ageing posits that accrual of oxidative damage underlies the increased cellular, tissue and organ dysfunction and failure associated with advanced age. In support of this theory, cellular resistance to oxidative stress is highly correlated with life span, suggesting that prevention or repair of oxidative damage might indeed be essential for longevity. To test the hypothesis that the prevention of oxidative damage underlies longevity, we measured the activities of the five major intracellular antioxidant enzymes in brain, heart and liver tissue of 14 mammalian and avian species with maximum life spans (MLSPs) ranging from 3 years to over 100 years. Our data set included Snell dwarf mice in which life span is increased by ∼50% compared to their normal littermates. We found that CuZn superoxide dismutase, the major cytosolic superoxide dismutase, showed no correlation with MLSP in any of the three organs. Similarly, neither glutathione peroxidase nor glutathione reductase activities correlated with MLSP. MnSOD, the sole mitochondrial superoxide dismutase in mammals and birds, was positively correlated with MLSP only for brain tissue. This same trend was observed for catalase. For all correlational data, effects of body mass and phylogenetic relatedness were removed using residual analysis and Felsenstein’s phylogenetically independent contrasts. Our results are not consistent with a causal role for intracellular antioxidant enzymes in longevity, similar to recent reports from studies utilising genetic modifications of mice (Pérez et al., Biochim Biophys Acta 1790:1005–1014, 2009). However, our results indicate a specific augmentation of reactive oxygen species neutralising activities in brain associated with longevity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-010-9131-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2861745  PMID: 20431992
Antioxidant enzyme; Life span; MLSP; Mammals; Birds; MnSOD; CuZnSOD; Catalase; Glutathione peroxidise; Glutathione reductase
23.  Manipulation of in vivo iron levels can alter resistance to oxidative stress without affecting ageing in the nematode C. elegans 
► Here we test whether iron-catalyzed oxidative damage contributes to organismal ageing. ► We develop new methodologies to measure free iron in vivo in C. elegans. ► Moderate iron supplementation can increase oxidative damage without reducing lifespan. ► Iron chelation or increasing ferritin levels increase resistance to oxidative stress but do not increase lifespan. ► Our findings argue against the oxidative damage theory of ageing.
Iron-catalyzed generation of free radicals leads to molecular damage in vivo, and has been proposed to contribute to organismal ageing. Here we investigate the role of free iron in ageing in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Media supplementation with Fe(III) increased free iron levels in vivo, as detected by continuous-wave electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and elevated expression of the iron-sensitive reporter transgene pftn-1::gfp. Increased free iron levels caused elevated levels of protein oxidation and hypersensitivity to tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BOOH) given 9 mM Fe(III) or greater, but 15 mM Fe(III) or greater was required to reduce lifespan. Treatment with either an iron chelator (deferoxamine) or over-expression of ftn-1, encoding the iron sequestering protein ferritin, increased resistance to t-BOOH and, in the latter case, reduced protein oxidation, but did not increase lifespan. Expression of ftn-1 is greatly increased in long-lived daf-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor mutants. In this context, deletion of ftn-1 decreased t-BOOH resistance, but enhanced both daf-2 mutant longevity and constitutive dauer larva formation, suggesting an effect of ferritin on signaling. These results show that high levels of iron can increase molecular damage and reduce lifespan, but overall suggest that iron levels within the normal physiological range do not promote ageing in C. elegans.
PMCID: PMC3449239  PMID: 22445852
C. elegans; Iron homeostasis; Fenton reaction; Oxidative damage; Ageing; EPR spectroscopy
24.  Mutant Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase in motor neuron disease 
Age  1998;21(2):85-89.
Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn SOD) is one of several anti-oxidant enzymes which defend the cell against damage by oxygen free radicals. Mutations of the SOD1 gene encoding Cu,Zn SOD are found familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive and fatal paralytic disease which is caused by the death of motor neurons in cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. The disease can be reproduced in transgenic mice by expression of mutant human Cu,Zn SOD. Recent studies both in vitro and in vivo suggest that the effect of mutation is to enhance the generation of oxygen radicals by the mutant enzyme. Thus, mutation converts a protective, antioxidant enzyme into a destructive pro-oxidant form which catalyzes free radical damage to which motor neurons are uniquely vulnerable.
PMCID: PMC3455714  PMID: 23604357
25.  Dietary restriction attenuates age-associated muscle atrophy by lowering oxidative stress in mice even in complete absence of CuZnSOD 
Aging cell  2012;11(5):770-782.
Age-related loss of muscle mass and function, sarcopenia, has a major impact on the quality of life in the elderly. Among the proposed causes of sarcopenia are mitochondrial dysfunction and accumulated oxidative damage during aging. Dietary restriction (DR), a robust dietary intervention that extends lifespan and modulates age-related pathology in a variety of species has been shown to protect from sarcopenia in rodents. Although the mechanism(s) by which DR modulates aging are still not defined, one potential mechanism is through modulation of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. To directly test the protective effect of DR against oxidative stress induced muscle atrophy in vivo, we subjected mice lacking a key antioxidant enzyme, CuZnSOD (Sod1) to DR (40% of ad libitum fed diet). We have previously shown that the Sod1−/− mice exhibit an acceleration of sarcopenia associated with high oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and severe neuromuscular innervation defects. Despite the dramatic atrophy phenotype in the Sod1−/− mice, DR led to a reversal or attenuation of reduced muscle function, loss of innervation and muscle atrophy in these mice. DR improves mitochondrial function as evidenced by enhanced Ca2+ regulation and reduction of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Furthermore, we show upregulation of SIRT3 and MnSOD in DR animals, consistent with reduced mitochondrial oxidative stress and reduced oxidative damage in muscle tissue measured as F2- isoprostanes. Collectively, our results demonstrate that DR is a powerful mediator of mitochondrial function, mitochondrial ROS production, and oxidative damage, providing a solid protection against oxidative stress induced neuromuscular defects and muscle atrophy in vivo even under conditions of high oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3444532  PMID: 22672615

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