Role of reactive oxygen species in cardiovascular aging

  • Claudio Muscari
  • Antonella Giaccari
  • Emanuele Giordano
  • Carlo Clô
  • Carlo Guarnieri
  • Claudio Marcello Caldarera
Part of the Developments in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry book series (DMCB, volume 18)


Biochemical and structural changes occurring in the myocardium with aging are mainly resulting from the association of a general tissue atrophy with the hypertrophy of the remaining myocytes. Whilst hypertrophy seems to be a compensatory process to the loss of cardiomyocytes and to a mild systolic hypertensive condition that accompanies elderly people, atrophy should be the modification more closely related to aging ‘per se’ In support to the free radical theory of aging, several signs of oxidative damage have been shown in the aged heart, such as lipofuscin accumulation, decreased phospholipid unsaturation index, greater formation of both hydrogen peroxide and 8-hydroxy-2′deoxyguanosine. As a compensatory reaction, the activities of the main oxygen-radical scavenger enzymes are stimulated in the mitochondria of aged rat heart. Endothelium-mediated vasoregulation is more susceptible to oxidative stress in aged with respect to young rats, suggesting that also the vasculature can be negatively influenced by the oxygen free radicals generated during aging. The possible primary role of oxygen free radicals in the development of myocardial atrophy is also discussed. (Mol Cell Biochem 160/161:159–166, 1996)

Key words

reactive oxygen species 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine heart nitric oxide aging rat 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudio Muscari
    • 1
  • Antonella Giaccari
    • 1
  • Emanuele Giordano
    • 1
  • Carlo Clô
    • 1
  • Carlo Guarnieri
    • 1
  • Claudio Marcello Caldarera
    • 1
  1. 1.Center of Research on Heart Metabolism, Department of Biochemistry ‘G. Moruzzi,’University of BolognaBolognaItaly

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