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Oxidative Stress

"Oxidative Stress" is a disturbance of the normal state of cells, causing toxic effects if not corrected leading to damaged cells as well as, proteins, lipids and DNA strands.


Prolonged oxidative stress and ongoing oxidation triggers "apoptosis" (cell death at a usual, controlled rate) and necrosis. Effects are similar to those of Ionizing radiation exposure. Oxidative damage causes "breaks" in base-layer DNA strands that allows for correct cellular formation. Some exposures that induce oxidative stress can also act as cellular messengers in signalling, leading to disruptions in normal mechanisms in cell signalling.


Increased oxidative stress leads to increased production of oxidizing species and/or a significant decrease and effectiveness of important antioxidant defenses such as GSH.

Oxidative Stress can attribute to...

"ADHD, Cancers, Parkinson's Disease, Lafora Disease, Alzheimers, Arteriosclerosis, Heart Failure, Myocardial Infractions, Sickle Cell, Vitiligo, Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome..."

- NCBI, NIH 2010

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Production of "reactive" oxygen species (ex: free radicals, peroxides, heavy metals) is a very destructive aspect of oxidative stress, some of these species can be converted into more aggressive and more damaging species if not controlled leading to inevitable cellular death. A majority of damaged caused to the human body is done in relation to Exposures --> oxidative stress --> reactive oxygen species formation --> cellular destruction (DNA).


A 1998 study reviewed rat urine to determine the number of oxidative DNA adducts per cell, per day were excreted post-exposure. Researchers found that approximately 74,000 oxidative DNA adducts per cell/per day are excreted but there was a trend of steady oxidative damage in the DNA cell itself. In "young" rats approximately 24,000 adducts per cell and in "adult" rats approximately 66,000 adducts per cell were excreted in a day. The excreted cellular adducts were replenished and replaced and damage to cells were repaired. However, under severe levels of oxidative stress that causes cell death, the damage causes ATP depletion, preventing controlled apoptotic death and causing the cell to "fall apart" as shown in the picture above (Helbock et al., 1998).


Targets and biochemical markers for dangerous free radicals and oxidation in the body include:

  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid


Production & Consumption of Oxidants:

  • Leaking of activated oxygen from mitochondria during "oxidative phosphorylation"
  • Metals: Iron, Copper, Chromium, Vanadium, Colbalt
  • Non-Metals: Quinones (anti-parasitic medications, coal, tar, vitamin K1, hydrogen peroxide, batteries and chargers)

Immune defenses use lethal effects of oxidants by making oxidizing species to kill off pathogens (they aren't completely bad when in balance), activating phagocytes, producing both ROS and RNS (reactive oxygen/nitrogen species), due to their non-specificity, they will damage a majority of the host cell as well, preventing the pathogen from escaping this part of the immune response by mutation of a  single cell/molecular target.


Development of Illnesses and Cancers:

  • Involved in age-related cancer development
  • Direct damage to cells and DNA strands produce and allow for mutagenic metastasis.
  • Examples:
    •  An Helicobacter pylori infection which increases the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in the human stomach and is also thought to be important in the development of gastric cancers.
    • Reaction of transition metals with oxidative proteins by reactive oxygen species and/or reactive nitrogen species can form reactive products that accumulate and contribute to aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's patients, where peroxided lipids and proteins accumulate in lysosomes of the brain cells.
    • Sperm DNA fragmentation appears to be a factor in male reproduction, men with significantly higher DNA fragmentation levels have much lower odds of concieving. Oxidative stress is a major cause of DNA frag. in spermatozoa (8-OHdG).




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