Oxidation and Inflammation in the Immune and Nervous Systems, a Link Between Aging and Anxiety

  • Mónica De la FuenteEmail author
Living reference work entry


Anxiety and aging are two related situations. Thus, adult individuals with anxiety show premature aging, and anxiety symptoms or disorders are relatively common in older subjects. According to the oxidation-inflammation theory of aging, chronic oxidative stress and inflammatory stress situations (with higher levels of oxidant and inflammatory compounds and lower antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses) are the basis of the age-related impairment of the functions of organisms. This principally affects the homeostatic systems; the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems; as well as their bidirectional communication. The age-related alteration in homeostasis and the resulting increase of morbidity and mortality could thus be explained. This theory also suggests that the immune system, due to its property of producing oxidants and inflammatory compounds to carry out its work, if not well regulated, could be involved in the rate of aging of each individual in the context of neuroimmune communication. It has been observed that an oxidative-inflammatory situation occurs in subjects with anxiety, which contributes to immunosenescence and a shorter life span, As an example of this, there are several models of premature aging in mice, in which those animals with a poor response to stress and consequently high levels of anxiety, show an oxidative and inflammatory stress in their immune cells and brain as well as in other tissues. These animals show premature immunosenescence and a shorter life expectancy than the corresponding counterparts of the same age. In conclusion, oxidation and inflammation, two related processes, could be the link between immunosenescence, aging, and anxiety.


Oxidative stress Inflammatory stress Oxi-inflamm-aging Anxiety Aging Neuroendocrine immune axis Premature aging 



The author thanks Dr. Vida for her help in this manuscript and also expresses her gratitude to Dr. Arranz, Dr. Gimenez-Llort, Dr. Vida, Mr. Garrido, Ms. Ceprian, Ms. Martinez de Toda, and Ms. Cruces for carried out experiments which have allowed us to arrive at some of the ideas expressed in this chapter. This work was supported by several grants (RETICEF: RD12/0043/0018 and PI15/01787) from the ISCIII-FEDER of the European Union.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Physiology and Microbiology (Animal Physiology), Faculty of Biological SciencesComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain

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