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Metabolism. 2000 Feb;49(2 Suppl 1):3-8.

What is oxidative stress?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Sir Jules Thorn Institute, The Middlesex Hospital, London, UK.


Oxidative stress, defined as a disturbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defenses, is discussed in relation to its possible role in the production of tissue damage in diabetes mellitus. Important free radicals are described and biological sources of origin discussed, together with the major antioxidant defense mechanisms. Examples of the possible consequences of free radical damage are provided with special emphasis on lipid peroxidation. Finally, the question of whether oxidative stress is increased in diabetes mellitus is discussed.

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