Methionine oxidation and aging

Earl R. Stadtman, Holly Van Remmen, Arlan Richardson, Nancy B. Wehr, Rodney L. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

287 Scopus citations


It is well established that many amino acid residues of proteins are susceptible to oxidation by various forms of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and that oxidatively modified proteins accumulate during aging, oxidative stress, and in a number of age-related diseases. Methionine residues and cysteine residues of proteins are particularly sensitive to oxidation by ROS. However, unlike oxidation of other amino acid residues, the oxidation of these sulfur amino acids is reversible. Oxidation of methionine residues leads to the formation of both R- and S-stereoisomers of methionine sulfoxide (MetO) and most cells contain stereospecific methionine sulfoxide reductases (Msr's) that catalyze the thioredoxin-dependent reduction of MetO residues back to methionine residues. We summarize here results of studies, by many workers, showing that the MetO content of proteins increases with age in a number of different aging models, including replicative senescence and erythrocyte aging, but not in mouse tissues during aging. The change in levels of MetO may reflect alterations in any one or more of many different mechanisms, including (i) an increase in the rate of ROS generation; (ii) a decrease in the antioxidant capacity; (iii) a decrease in proteolytic activities that preferentially degrade oxidized proteins; or (iv) a decrease in the ability to convert MetO residues back to Met residues, due either to a direct loss of Msr enzyme levels or indirectly to a loss in the availability of the reducing equivalents (thioredoxin, thioredoxin reductase, NADPH generation) involved. The importance of Msr activity is highlighted by the fact that aging is associated with a loss of Msr activities in a number of animal tissues, and mutations in mice leading to a decrease in the Msr levels lead to a decrease in the maximum life span, whereas overexpression of Msr leads to a dramatic increase in the maximum life span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2005


  • Aging
  • Methionine
  • Methionine sulfoxide
  • Methionine sulfoxide reductase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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