Free Radicals and Neurodegenerative Disease
One of the most prominent current theories of aging is the "free radical theory." According to this theory, free radical molecules generated through mitochondrial metabolism can act as causative factor of abnormal function and cell death. Various toxins in the environment can injure mitochondrial enzymes, leading to increased generation of free radicals and oxidative stress, that over the life-span would eventually play a major role in aging. Free radical's oxidative damage to key intracellular targets such as DNA or proteins has been shown to be a major cause of the degenerative diseases related to aging such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Luckily, mammalian cells have developed highly protective systems against including oxidative challenges over time. When properly activated, each one of these cell systems has the possibility to restore cellular homeostasis and resume the ability to fight off oxidation. Activation of antioxidant pathways is particularly important for tissue with relatively weak antioxidant defenses, such as the brain. In fact, increasing evidence points to the notion that reduced cellular expression and activity of antioxidant proteins and the consequent oxidative stress are fundamental causes for brain aging processes and neurodegenerative diseases.
HO-1 and Curcumin
There are a variety of genes encoding proteins that possess anti-oxidant properties. Of particular interest in the central nervous system (CNS) is
Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society