Decreased susceptibility to oxidative stress-induced apoptosis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy elderly and centenarians

Daniela Monti, Stefano Salvioli, Miriam Capri, Walter Malorni, Elisabetta Straface, Andrea Cossarizza, Barbara Botti, Mauro Piacentini, Giovannella Baggio, Cristiana Barbi, Silvana Valensin, Massimiliano Bonafè, Claudio Franceschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The susceptibility to undergo apoptosis of fresh human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from three groups of healthy donors of different ages: young people (19-40 years), old people (65-85 years) and centenarians was assessed. Apoptosis was induced by 2-deoxy-D-ribose (dRib), an agent which induces apoptosis in quiescent PBMCs by interfering with cell redox status and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Our major finding is that an inverse correlation emerged between the age of the donors and the propensity of their PBMCs to undergo dRib-induced apoptosis. PBMCs from old people and centenarians also showed an increased resistance to dRib-induced glutathione depletion and a decreased tendency to lose MMP. The anti-apoptotic molecule Bcl-2 was similarly expressed in PBMCs from the three age groups. Moreover, the plasma level of the stable product of transglutaminase, ε(γ-glutamyl)lysine isodipeptide, a marker of total body apoptotic rate, was decreased in centenarians compared to young and elderly people. On the whole, these findings suggest that physiological aging is characterised by a decreased tendency to undergo apoptosis, a phenomenon likely resulting from adaptation to lifelong exposure to damaging agents, such as reactive oxygen species, and may contribute to one of the major phenomena of immunosenescence, i.e. the progressive accumulation of memory/effector T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2001


  • 2-Deoxy-D-ribose
  • Aging
  • Apoptosis
  • Centenarians
  • Longevity
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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