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Oxygen free radicals are thought to be involved in pathogenesis of various diseases in humans and animals. Living organisms have diverse defense mechanisms, both enzymatic and non-enzymatic. The aim of this review is state-of the art description of the role of reactive oxygen species on oxidative stress development in living organism.

Oxidative stress is most simply defined as an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in which the oxidant activity exceeds the neutralizing capability of antioxidants, resulting in cellular injury and activation of pathologic pathways. Within this context, the oxidants of interest are collectively referred to as reactive oxygen species, which can be defined as oxygen-containing molecules that are more reactive than the triplet oxygen molecules present in air. The biologically relevant molecules meeting this criterion include the superoxide anion radical, perhydroxyl radical, hydroxyl radical, and hydrogen peroxide. The human and animal body is well equipped to deal with the production of these molecules with endogenous antioxidant scavenging systems, which include antioxidant enzymes as well as, nonenzymatic antioxidants. The field of oxidative stress research and evidence-based antioxidant therapy in human and animal medicine is still in the early stages of development. There is a great deal to be discovered about the importance and basic pathophysiology of oxidative stress in living organism. Even as oxidant injury is proven to be associated with numerous conditions, it still remains to be seen if it is a primary cause of pathologic change or a secondary effect of disease.

Key words: ROS, Oxidative stress, Free oxygen radical, Antioxidants.

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