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Reactive oxygen species, health and longevity

Vittorio Emanuele Bianchi Giancarlo Falcioni

*Corresponding author: Vittorio Emanuele Bianchi dott.vbianchi@gmail.com


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered responsible of ageing in animal and humans. Mitochondria are both source and target of ROS. Various strategies to reduce ROS production have been considered to extend lifespan. Caloric restriction, exercise, and antioxidants are thought to be able to protect cells from structural and functional damage. However, there is evidence that ROS production has a detrimental effect on health, but at physiological levels are necessary to stimulate longevity. They play an important effect on secondary signal transduction stimulating innate immunology and mitochondriogenesis. During exercise at moderate intensity, skeletal muscles generate ROS that are necessary for the remodelling of the muscular cells. Physical inactivity determines excessive ROS production and muscle atrophy. Caloric restriction (CR) can reduce ROS generation and improve longevity while antioxidant supplementation has shown a negative effect on longevity reducing the muscle adaptation to exercise and increasing mortality risk in patients with chronic diseases. The role of ROS in chronic diseases in also influenced by sex steroids that decrease in aging. The physiology of longevity is the result of integrated biological mechanisms that influence mitochondrial function and activity. The main objective of this review is to evaluate the effects of ROS on mitochondriogenesis and lifespan extension.

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