Oxidative stress is an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in favor of the oxidants, leading to a disruption of redox signaling and control and/or molecular damage (Sies H, Jones DP, Oxidative stress. In: Fink G (eds) Encyclopedia of stress. 2nd edn, vol 3, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 45–48, 2007). The concept of oxidative stress, first formulated in 1985, is presented and discussed in the context of current developments. The role of hydrogen peroxide in oxidative stress and redox signaling has come into focus, with attempts to explore spatio-temporal control. Special aquaporins serve as peroxiporins. Research on molecular redox switches governing oxidative stress responses is in full bloom. On the more practical side, cautious use of terminology and methods regarding the so called ROS, reactive oxygen species, is recommended. The major role in antioxidant defense is fulfilled by antioxidant enzymes, not by small-molecule antioxidant compounds. The field of oxidative stress research embraces chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology and pathophysiology, all the way to health and disease research, ultimately providing a scientific basis for a modern redox medicine.
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I gratefully acknowledge the input and friendship of many colleagues in shaping ideas in this multidisciplinary field, gathered under the umbrella of the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRRI) and related organisations such as the Oxygen Club of California (OCC).
I also am thankful for the research support by the National Foundation of Cancer Research (NFCR), Bethesda, MD, USA, and to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, Bonn, Germany.
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