Comparative Studies of Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Function in Aging
AbstractThe oxidative stress theory and its correlate the mitochondrial theory of aging are among the most studied and widely accepted of all hypotheses of the mechanism of aging. To date, most of the supporting evidence for these theories has come from investigations using common model organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans , Drosophila melanogaster , and laboratory rodents. However, comparative data from a wide range of endotherms provide equivocal support as to whether oxidative stress is merely a correlate, rather than a determinant, of species’ maximum lifespan. The great majority of studies in this area have been devoted to the relationship between reactive oxygen species and maximal longevity in young adult organisms, with little emphasis on mitochondrial respiratory efficiency, age-related alterations in mitochondrial physiology or oxidative damage. The advantage of studying a broader spectrum of species is the broad range of virtually every biological phenotype/trait, such as lifespan, body weight and metabolic rate. Here we summarize the results from a number of comparative studies in an effort to correlate oxidant production and oxidative damage among many species with their maximal lifespan and briefly discuss the pitfalls and limitations. Based on current information, it is not possible to accept or dispute the oxidative stress theory of aging, nor can we exclude the possibility that private mechanisms might offer an explanation for the longevity of exceptionally long-lived animal models. Thus, there is need for more thorough and controlled investigations with more unconventional animal models for a deeper understanding of the role of oxidative stress in longevity.