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Oxidation strongly linked to aging....

Though most living things need air to survive, they pay a price for it. Oxygen and many substances containing it can be chemically reactive -- and quite damaging to tissues. While plants and animals have developed complex systems for neutralizing these oxidants, they seldom succeed in preventing all oxidative deterioration. Indeed, because oxidation can foster many disabling changes common in the elderly, many researchers now suspect that aging may merely constitute a lifetime's accumulation of oxidative damage.

A report in the Aug. 1 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers strong support for that theory. Working with houseflies, Rajindar S. Sohal and his co-workers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas have linked accumulations of protein carbonyl -- a measure of oxidant-induced damage -- with a fly's vitality and life expectancy.

In one experiment, they housed young adult flies in quarters that allowed them only enough room to walk. These insects lived twice as long as flies given room to fly. Suspecting that the sedentary life -- and corresponding reduction in oxygen demand -- caused less oxidation, the researchers measured protein carbonyl levels in the flies' tissue. And by day 14, flying flies had 55 percent more than their grounded counterparts.

Sohal's team also exposed young adult flying flies to sublethal periods of pure oxygen. These insects lived longer than flies breathing plain air. However, Sohal says, the reason seems to be that the exposure to pure oxygen sharply reduced the flies' metabolism, in effect rendering them as sedentary as the restricted insects. Moreover, he says, the high carbonyl content and immediate inability to fly seen in oxygen-treated flies suggests that their sedentariness reflects what amounts to rapid and premature aging.
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Title Annotation:exposure to oxygen
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 14, 1993
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