III. The Role of Oxygen in Aging Physiology

Introduction:  Oxygen is both a necessary and toxic substrate for aerobic life, allowing for vital ATP production, while simultaneously generating damaging free radicals. Epidemiological studies suggest a close relationship between longevity and hypoxia, with 7 of the 10 longest-lived US counties found at the high altitudes of Colorado. Moreover, species that are particularly hypoxia and anoxia-tolerant (e.g. naked mole rat, African painted turtle, etc.) tend to be the longest-lived. As even more direct evidence, it was found that constitutive activation of the hypoxia transcriptional program in C. elegans increases longevity and also protects against proteotoxic stress. Thus, understanding the interplay between oxygen and the (cellular and physiological) hallmarks of aging will improve our understanding of the aging process and offer hope for new therapies for age-associated conditions.

Approaches: We use a combination of traditional molecular/cellular biology techniques and animals models of age-associated conditions to answer questions at the intersection of oxygen metabolism and aging.

Biomedical Relevance: We hope to better understand the role of oxygen in the (1) aging process, and (2) age-associated degenerative conditions.