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Sci Prog. 2004;87(Pt 3):153-77.

Applied and ecological aspects of oxidative-stress damage to bacterial spores and to oral microbes.

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University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, New York, NY 14642-8672, USA.


Bacterial cells have adapted in a variety of ways to resist oxidative stresses and damage in their everyday lives in a predominantly aerobic world. The nearly universal occurrence of resistance mechanisms against oxidative stresses, particularly those due to reactive oxygen species (ROS), suggests that most, if not all, bacteria have to deal with oxidative assaults. A primary source of oxidative stress is aerobic metabolism, which leads to production of ROS such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide radical, perhydroxyl radical, hydroxyl radical and a variety of other toxic metabolites, including organic peroxides and other organics or inorganics able to transfer electrons to sites of oxidative damage. Anaerobes as well as aerobic and facultative organisms are subject to oxidative stresses, often as a result of their own metabolism of O2 or that of associated facultative organisms. If anaerobes would just ignore oxygen instead of metabolizing it, they would not have to deal with toxic metabolites of their own making. Another major source of oxidative stress comes from the use of oxidative agents in the disinfection-sterilization industry. Notable examples are hypochlorite for water purification and hydrogen peroxide used for industrial sterilization. Antimicrobials such as isoniazide and mitomycin C also act oxidatively to cause damage. In this article, aseptic packaging and processing involving use of hydrogen peroxide for sterilization of packaging materials is reviewed as an example of oxidative stress imposed on bacterial spores and vegetative cells from outside the organisms or the microbial community. The other example considered is related to oral microbiology and infectious disease in which oxidative stress may arise from the metabolism of the oral microbiota or may come from outside through use of oral care products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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