Oxidative Stress And Cognitive Decline


What is oxidative stress? 

Oxidative stress is a condition that occurs when antioxidant levels are low. These values ​​can be measured via plasma.“When the balance between reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals, and antioxidant defenses is disrupted, the body experiences oxidative stress. This imbalance may play a role in certain diseases and conditions, such as diabetes.”Oxidative stress can cause cell and tissue breakdown. However, this imbalance has some advantages. Some studies have shown that oxidative stress can help fight certain diseases such as cancer.1

What is cognitive decline? 

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage from the expected decline in memory and thinking ability with aging to the more severe decline in dementia. MCI may involve memory, language, or judgment problems. People with MCI may find that their memory and mental functioning are "out of sync". Family members and close friends may also notice the changes. But these changes are not bad enough to affect your daily life or interfere with your normal activities.MCI may increase the risk of dementia from Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. However, some people with mild cognitive impairment may never get worse, and some eventually get better.3

Link between oxidative stress and cognitive decline

Brain ageing is an important and common factor in several neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. Cellular, biochemical, and molecular studies have shown strong links between oxidative stress and cognitive impairment in ageing and age-related neurological diseases. Brain ageing is accompanied by oxidative damage to nuclear and mitochondrial DNA and decreased repair. Recent studies have reported epigenetic changes during brain ageing, including reactive oxygen species (ROS) that regulate various systems through different mechanisms. However, there are studies that present different roles for reactive oxidant species as key factors during ageing. This review article describes evidence for how oxidative stress is closely associated with age-related cognitive decline. In particular, it focuses on the effects of age-related oxidative damage on learning and memory, and on cellular events. A comprehensive understanding of these mechanisms provides perspective for developing potential therapeutic targets within the oxidative system.2

More on oxidative stress: causes, symptoms and treatment

Causes of oxidative stress

  • A diet high in fat, sugar, and processed foods
  • Radiation exposure
  • Smoking tobacco or other tobacco products
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain drugs
  • Pollution
  • Exposure to pesticides or industrial chemicals

Symptoms of oxidative stress 

  • Memory loss and/or brain fog
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Wrinkles and grey hair
  • Decreased eyesight
  • Headaches and sensitivity to noise
  • Susceptibility to infections

Treatment for oxidative stress

It's important to remember that the body needs both free radicals and antioxidants. Too much or too little of either can cause health problems.

Lifestyle and dietary measures that can help reduce oxidative stress in the body include:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Limit processed foods, especially those high in sugar and fat
  • Regular exercise
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress

More on cognitive decline: causes, symptoms and treatment

Causes of cognitive decline 

Age is a major risk factor for cognitive impairment, but other risk factors include family history, level of education, brain injury, exposure to pesticides and toxins, physical inactivity, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Clumps of a beta-amyloid protein called tau protein plaques and tangles that occur in Alzheimer's disease.

Microscopic clumps of protein called Lewy bodies. These lumps are associated with Parkinson's disease, dementia, and some forms of Alzheimer's disease.. Brain imaging studies have shown that the following changes may be associated with MCI:

  • Reduction in size of the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory
  • Enlargement of fluid-filled brain spaces known as ventricles
  • Decreased Glucose Use in Major Brain Areas. Glucose is a sugar that is the primary source of energy for cells

Symptoms of cognitive decline You forget things more often.

  • You miss appointments or social events
  • You lose your train of thought
  • You have trouble following a conversation
  • You find it hard to make decisions, finish a task or follow instructions
  • You start to have trouble finding your way around places you know well

Treatment for cognitive decline

Studies show that playing games, playing musical instruments, reading books, and other activities help maintain brain function. Socializing can make life more satisfying, preserve mental function, and slow mental decline. Memory training and other cognitive training can help improve function.


It is well known that oxidative stress and free radicals are detrimental to health. Numerous studies have shown that free radicals do contribute to the development and progression of a variety of medical conditions,.  Conclusively, oxidative stress as a phenomenon, is one of the greatest detriments to individual well-being and health, but if this process can be fine-tuned, it can also be used as a therapeutic tool.

Individuals, families and societies around the world are concerned about dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment that affect many older people. Brain changes are known to usually begin years, if not decades, before symptoms appear. Achieving the public health goal of maintaining cognitive health requires clear and effective communication with accurate, timely, and consistent messages and promoting actions to improve, prevent, or reduce cognitive decline. 


  1. Gabriele Pizzino,  * Natasha IrreraMariapaola CucinottaGiovanni Pallio, Federica ManninoVincenzo ArcoraciFrancesco SquadritoDomenica Altavilla,  and Alessandra Bitto.Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017; 2017: 8416763.
  2. Gabriele Pizzino,  * Natasha IrreraMariapaola CucinottaGiovanni Pallio, Federica ManninoVincenzo ArcoraciFrancesco SquadritoDomenica Altavilla,  and Alessandra Bitto.Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017; 2017: 8416763
  3. Chittaranjan Andrade and Rajiv Radhakrishnan.The prevention and treatment of cognitive decline and dementia: An overview of recent research on experimental treatments.Indian J Psychiatry. 2009 Jan-Mar; 51(1): 12–25.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Dr. Riya Dave

Bachelors of Dental Surgery – BDS, Gujrat University, Gujrat

Dr. Riya Dave is a dentist with strong skills related to medicine and dentistry. She has a clinical
exposure for 3 years with a knowledge of anatomy, physiology, basic general medicine and surgery,
pharmacology and dental expertise in areas related to oral medicine, restorative dentistry, she is
detail-oriented with keen interest in medicine and pharmacology. She has organizational and
observational skills with attention to detail, analysis of data, verbal and communication skills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818