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Int J Clin Lab Res. 1999;29(2):49-55.

An update on the role of free radicals and antioxidant defense in human disease.

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Department of Internal and Occupational Medicine, University of Bari - Medical School, Piazza G. Cesare, II, I-70124 Bari, Italy.


Mounting clinical and experimental evidence indicates that free radicals play important roles in many physiological and pathological conditions. The wider application of free radical measurement has increased awareness of functional implications of radical-induced impairment of the oxidative/antioxidative balance. In the following review, the role of oxygen free radicals in some human and experimental pathological conditions is described, with particular emphasis on the mechanisms by which they produce oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and nucleic bases. The role of free radicals and the activation of the antioxidant systems in arteriosclerosis and ageing, diabetes, ischemia/reperfusion injury, ethanol intoxication, and liver steatosis is discussed. Therapeutic approaches to the use of antioxidants have been described and prospects for clinical use have been considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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