• Open Access

Oxidative stress and aging: beyond correlation


Simon Melov, Buck Institute for Age Research, 8001 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945, USA. Tel.: 415 209 2068; fax: 415 209 2232; e-mail: smelov@buckinstitute.org


The oxidative stress theory of aging has become increasingly accepted as playing a role in the aging process, based primarily on a substantial accumulation of circumstantial evidence. In recent years, the hypothesis that mitochondrially generated reactive oxygen species play a role in organismal aging has been directly tested in both invertebrate and mammalian model systems. Initial results imply that oxidative damage, specifically the level of superoxide, does play a role in limiting the lifespans of invertebrates such as Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. In mammalian model systems, the effect of oxidative stress on lifespan is less clear, but there is evidence that antioxidant treatment protects against age-related dysfunction, including cognitive decline.