Oxidation of biological systems: Oxidative stress phenomena, antioxidants, redox reactions, and methods for their quantification

Ron Kohen*, Abraham Nyska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1881 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other radicals are involved in a variety of biological phenomena, such as mutation, carcinogenesis, degenerative and other diseases, inflammation, aging, and development. ROS are well recognized for playing a dual role as deleterious and beneficial species. The objectives of this review are to describe oxidative stress phenomena, terminology, definitions, and basic chemical characteristics of the species involved; examine the biological targets susceptible to oxidation and the defense mechanisms of the organism against these reactive metabolites; and analyze methodologies, including immunohistochemical markers, used in toxicological pathology in the visualization of oxidative stress phenomena. Direct detection of ROS and other free radicals is difficult, because these molecules are short-lived and highly reactive in a nonspecific manner. Ongoing oxidative damage is, thus, generally analyzed by measurement of secondary products including derivatives of amino acids, nuclei acids, and lipid peroxidation. Attention has been focused on electrochemical methods based on voltammetry measurements for evaluating the total reducing power of biological fluids and tissues. This approach can function as a tool to assess the antioxidant-reducing profile of a biological site and follow changes in pathological situations. This review thus includes different topics essential for understanding oxidative stress phenomena and provides tools for those intending to conduct study and research in this field.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)620-650
Number of pages31
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Antioxidants
  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Oxidative damage markers
  • Pro-oxidant
  • Reducing power


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