What Is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress is broadly defined as an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, and their elimination by cellular antioxidant defenses. The consequences of uncontrolled oxidative stress can lead to oxidative damage to biomolecules critical to cellular structure and function.1,2
Fortunately, powerful oxidative stress response mechanisms have evolved to protect organisms from the damaging effects of oxidative pressure in biological systems. However, uncontrolled oxidative stress is implicated in a wide variety of pathophysiology and age-related diseases, and understanding the role of oxidative stress in health and disease is a common goal of many biomedical research programs.3
Arbor Assays provides tools to measure the status and activity of key oxidative stress biomarkers. For example, our glutathione and hydrogen peroxide assay kits are the easiest, most sensitive assay kits available to help researchers to better monitor oxidative stress mechanisms and responses.
Our Oxidative Stress-Related Kits
Oxidative Stress FAQs
What are free radicals?
Free radicals, including reactive oxygen species (ROS), are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. Production of free radicals is a normal part of life, and moderate concentrations are involved in a number of signaling pathways, synthesis of cellular structures, and host defense against pathogens. Free radicals arise as byproducts of normal metabolic processes or from external sources such as radiation, cigarette smoke and pesticides.
Excessive or unchecked ROS production can cause cellular damage and is implicated in a variety of pathologic and age-related conditions. Examples of potentially damaging free radicals include:
- Superoxide (O2-•),
- Hydroxyl radical (•OH)
- Nitric oxide radical (NO)
- Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2),
How do free radicals affect the body?
Biological systems produce free radicals during normal metabolic processes, and cells also produce antioxidants that neutralize excess free radicals. Under normal circumstances, the body is able to maintain a balance between antioxidants and free radicals.
Excessive oxidative stress can lead to an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. Subsequent oxidative damage occurs to proteins, lipids, and DNA, which could lead to cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and even carcinogenesis when damaged (mutated) cells proliferate. Uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and may contribute to the development of a number of pathologic conditions.
Several factors contribute to oxidative stress and excess free radical production including diet, lifestyle, and environmental conditions. The body’s natural immune response can also trigger oxidative stress temporarily. This type of oxidative stress causes mild inflammation while the immune system fights off infection or repairs an injury.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that neutralize or remove free radicals by donating an electron. The neutralizing effect of antioxidants helps protect biological systems from oxidative stress. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E. Cells can also produce endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione (GSH).
What are the effects of oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress that results from physical activity has beneficial, regulatory effects on the body. Free radicals formed during physical activity regulate tissue growth and stimulate the production of antioxidants. Mild oxidative stress may also protect the body from infection and diseases.
However, long-term uncontrolled oxidative stress damages the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. This can contribute to aging and may play an important role in the development of a range of conditions. Most notably, oxidative stress can cause chronic inflammation. Under normal circumstances, infections and injuries trigger the body’s immune response producing free radicals while fighting off invading germs. These free radicals can also damage healthy cells, leading to inflammation. Oxidative stress can also trigger the inflammatory response, which produces more free radicals leading to further oxidative stress, creating a cycle. Chronic inflammation from oxidative stress may lead to several conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.
What conditions are linked to oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress may play a role in the development of a range of conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and stroke
- Inflammatory disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Male infertility
How is oxidative stress measured?
Understanding the role ROS play in health and disease is a common goal of many biomedical researchers. The level of oxidative stress can be determined by measuring the quantity of free radicals, ROS, antioxidants, or the activity of cellular mechanisms deployed to control levels of oxidative stress. Arbor Assays offers a variety of oxidative stress kits to help answer your most challenging questions about oxidative stress mechanisms.
- Betteridge, D. J. (2000). What is oxidative stress? Metabolism, 49, 3–8.
- Sies, H., & Jones, D. P. (2007). Oxidative stress. Encyclopedia of Stress, 45–48.
- Liquori, I., et al. (2018). Oxidative stress, aging, and diseases. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 13, 757–772.
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