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J Comp Physiol B. 2012 Aug;182(6):741-50. doi: 10.1007/s00360-012-0652-0. Epub 2012 Feb 11.

Coping with physiological oxidative stress: a review of antioxidant strategies in seals.

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School of Natural Sciences, University of California Merced, 5200 N Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343, USA.


While diving, seals are exposed to apnea-induced hypoxemia and repetitive cycles of ischemia/reperfusion. While on land, seals experience sleep apnea, as well as prolonged periods of food and water deprivation. Prolonged fasting, sleep apnea, hypoxemia and ischemia/reperfusion increase oxidant production and oxidative stress in terrestrial mammals. In seals, however, neither prolonged fasting nor apnea-induced hypoxemia or ischemia/reperfusion increase systemic or local oxidative damage. The strategies seals evolved to cope with increased oxidant production are reviewed in the present manuscript. Among these strategies, high antioxidant capacity and the oxidant-mediated activation of hormetic responses against hypoxia and oxidative stress are discussed. In addition to expanding our knowledge of the evolution of antioxidant defenses and adaptive responses to oxidative stress, understanding the mechanisms that naturally allow mammals to avoid oxidative damage has the potential to advance our knowledge of oxidative stress-induced pathologies and to enhance the translative value of biomedical therapies in the long term.

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