Oxidative stress, antioxidants, aging and disease

  • L. Packer
Conference paper
Part of the Molecular and Cell Biology Updates book series (MCBU)


Individuals are exposed to oxidants from before the moment of birth. Sources are both exogenous and endogenous, with the latter being mainly from “leaks” in electron transport. Various antioxidant defenses have evolved to combat the constant oxidant load, but free radical damage inevitably accumulates with age. This has led to the Free Radical Theory of Aging, first formulated by Denham Harman. The theory states that the free radical load is the cause of general aging. It may also be the cause of specific diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration. The latter presents a good case for oxidative involvement, especially in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Once aging is looked at in terms of free radical processes, strategies for retarding the aging process or decreasing the likelihood of aging-related diseases become apparent. These include decreasing exposure to free radical sources and bolstering antioxidant defenses.


Lipid Hydroperoxide Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Free Radical Theory Buthionine Sulfoximine Oxidize Amino Acid 
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© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel/Switzerland 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Packer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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