Base excision repair, aging and health span

Guogang Xu, Maryanne Herzig, Vladimir Rotrekl, Christi A. Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


DNA damage and mutagenesis are suggested to contribute to aging through their ability to mediate cellular dysfunction. The base excision repair (BER) pathway ameliorates a large number of DNA lesions that arise spontaneously. Many of these lesions are reported to increase with age. Oxidized guanine, repaired largely via base excision repair, is particularly well studied and shown to increase with age. Spontaneous mutant frequencies also increase with age which suggests that mutagenesis may contribute to aging. It is widely accepted that genetic instability contributes to age-related occurrences of cancer and potentially other age-related pathologies. BER activity decreases with age in multiple tissues. The specific BER protein that appears to limit activity varies among tissues. DNA polymerase-β is reduced in brain from aged mice and rats while AP endonuclease is reduced in spermatogenic cells obtained from old mice. The differences in proteins that appear to limit BER activity among tissues may represent true tissue-specific differences in activity or may be due to differences in techniques, environmental conditions or other unidentified differences among the experimental approaches. Much remains to be addressed concerning the potential role of BER in aging and age-related health span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-382
Number of pages17
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Aging
  • Base excision repair
  • DNA damage
  • Health span
  • Mutagenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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