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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015 Nov;28 Suppl 1:2291-5. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.796170. Epub 2013 Aug 23.

Brain susceptibility to oxidative stress in the perinatal period.

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a Department of Pediatrics , Obstetrics and Reproduction Medicine, University of Siena , Siena , Italy and.
b Neonatal Pathology Unit , Giannina Gaslini Hospital , Genova , Italy.


Oxidative stress (OS) occurs at birth in all newborns as a consequence of the hyperoxic challenge due to the transition from the hypoxic intrauterine environment to extrauterine life. Free radical (FRs) sources such as inflammation, hyperoxia, hypoxia, ischaemia-reperfusion, neutrophil and macrophage activation, glutamate and free iron release, all increases the OS during the perinatal period. Newborns, and particularly preterm infants, have reduced antioxidant defences and are not able to counteract the harmful effects of FRs. Energy metabolism is central to life because cells cannot exist without an adequate supply of ATP. Due to its growth, the mammalian brain can be considered as a steady-state system in which ATP production matches ATP utilisation. The developing brain is particularly sensitive to any disturbances in energy generation, and even a short-term interruption can lead to long-lasting and irreversible damage. Whenever energy failure develops, brain damage can occur. Accumulating evidence indicates that OS is implicated in the pathogenesis of many neurological diseases, such as intraventricular haemorrhage, hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy and epilepsy.


Antioxidants; brain injury; free radicals; oxidative damage

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