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Collaborative Success Stories: Stress Busters

University of Missouri scientists have uncovered a surprising defense against harmful oxidative stress.

When oxygen molecules react with biological compounds in our bodies, chemical reactions can occur which create unpaired electrons, better known as free radicals. If enough antioxidants aren’t produced to counteract these free radicals, adverse changes in the body can result. This imbalance, called oxidative stress, has been linked to diabetes, hypertension and some cancers. Additionally, oxidative stress is thought to be the main culprit in many age-related diseases.

However, a team of MU scientists led by Dr. Steven Segal has discovered that when it comes to the circulatory system, aging may actually offer significant protection against oxidative stress. The researchers found that in 4-month-old mice—comparable to humans in their early twenties—oxidative stress caused more cellular damage to the cells lining arteries than it did in two-year-old mice, which correspond to humans in their mid-sixties.

The researchers’ findings, which were published in the Journal of Physiology, are in direct contrast to the generally-held belief that blood vessels are functionally compromised as they age. Further investigation into how the vessels adapt during aging may give scientists new insights to fight disease.

Dr. Steven Segal is professor of medical pharmacology and physiology at the School of Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine