OBJECTIVE: It has recently been proposed that increased oxidative stress may play a role in the aging process and age-associated degenerative diseases. DESIGN AND MEASUREMENTS: A cross-sectional study was carried out to assess the relationship of circulating antioxidants, namely vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, proteic thiols (P-SH) and ceruloplasmin, and of lipid peroxides, with both aging and aging with disability, i.e., unsuccessful aging. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred healthy free living and 62 disabled octo-nonagenarians and 91 healthy adults were enrolled in the study. RESULTS: Free living and disabled older adults had lower antioxidant and higher lipid peroxide levels than healthy adults, as well as the disabled older adults compared with free living older persons. Using logistic regression, we observed that plasma concentrations of vitamins E and C, P-SH, and lipid peroxides were independently associated with either aging or aging with disability, apparently representing biochemical indicators of patient status. In particular, aging and unsuccessful aging were associated with higher levels of lipid peroxides independently of circulating levels of vitamins C and E, suggesting that the increased oxidative stress was not merely an effect of a lower dietary intake of antioxidants. Serum ceruloplasmin was significantly higher in free living older adults than in healthy adults, and in the disabled compared with free living octo-nonagenarians. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings are consistent with the presence of systemic oxidant load in older adults, and this phenomenon is far more evident in unsuccessful aging.
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