Oxidative Stress and Reactive Oxygen Species

Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between oxidation and reduction towards the oxidative status [11], which can potentially result in cellular or genetic damage. This condition is triggered by so-called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemical intermediates deriving from oxygen, most of them having one or more unpaired electrons (radicals) causing electronic instability and therefore very short half-life times in the nanosecond (10-9 s) to millisecond range (10-3 s) with high reactivity of the molecules [12]. Practically, these radicals react at the site of generation. The most relevant examples of ROS in Andrology are the hydroxyl radical ('OH), superoxide anion (°O2-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). On the other hand, one has to distinguish between ROS, which can be radicals, but need not to be always (exception: H2O2), and radicals. Radicals are any form of molecule exhibiting one or more unpaired electrons.

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