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Commentary 2533 Introduction

Summary: Commentary 2533
The aging process results in a gradual and progressive structural
and functional deterioration of biomolecules that is associated with
many pathological conditions, including cancer, neurodegenerative
diseases, sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and liver dysfunction
(Chung et al., 2009; Chung et al., 2008; Seo et al., 2006). Although
several theories have been proposed to explain the fundamental
mechanisms mediating these age-related diseases and conditions,
the free-radical theory of aging is by far the most popular. This
theory proposes that cumulative damage to biological
macromolecules by oxygen radicals (reactive oxygen species; ROS)
leads to irreversible cell damage and an overall functional decline
(Harman, 1956). The free-radical theory has also been extended to
include mitochondria, as the accumulation of aging-associated
mutations and deletions in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can
impair the function of the respiratory chain and enhance ROS
production (Chomyn and Attardi, 2003; Harman, 1972). The
increased ROS production can subsequently lead to a vicious cycle
of exponentially increasing levels of mtDNA damage and oxidative


Source: Aris, John P. - Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Florida


Collections: Biology and Medicine