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Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 Jan 1;34(1):1-10.

Oxidative stress in viral and alcoholic hepatitis.

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Gastroenterology School, 2nd University of Naples, and Inter-University Research Center of Alimentary Intake, Nutrition and Digestive Tract (CIRANAD), Naples, Italy.


Liver damage ranges from acute hepatitis to hepatocellular carcinoma, through apoptosis, necrosis, inflammation, immune response, fibrosis, ischemia, altered gene expression and regeneration, all processes that involve hepatocyte, Kupffer, stellate, and endothelial cells. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS, RNS) play a crucial role in the induction and in the progression of liver disease, independently from its etiology. They are involved in the transcription and activation of a large series of cytokines and growth factors that, in turn, can contribute to further production of ROS and RNS. The main sources of free radicals are represented by hepatocyte mitochondria and cytochrome p450 enzymes, by endotoxin-activated macrophages (Kupffer cells), and by neutrophils. The consequent alteration of cellular redox state is potentiated by the correlated decrease of antioxidant and energetic reserves. Indices of free radical-mediated damage, such as the increase of malondialdehyde, 4-hydroxynonenal, protein-adducts, peroxynitrite, nitrotyrosine, etc., and/or decrease of glutathione, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, etc., have been documented in patients with viral or alcoholic liver disease. These markers may contribute to the monitoring the degree of liver damage, the response to antiviral therapies and to the design of new therapeutic strategies. In fact, increasing attention is now paid to a possible "redox gene therapy." By enhancing the antioxidant ability of hepatocytes, through transgene vectors, one could counteract oxidative/nitrosative stress and, in this way, contribute to blocking the progression of liver disease.

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