Oxidative stress happens when the production of free radicals exceeds the clearance ability of naturally occurring antioxidants. Think of protecting a fruit tree from a flock of birds with just your arms. You can scare them away from one side, only to have them peck at fruit on the other. Similar to that, your body can only do so much if it is overwhelmed by cell-destroying free radicals.
Eventually, when enough cells are destroyed, symptoms start to show on the outside. Research has already shown that oxidative stress is associated with the development of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Oxidative stress goes hand-in-hand with body-wide inflammation as our immune system attempts to fight back. Being stuck on “high-alert” all day, every day means something has to give, and this article published in BMC Medicine pinpoints the mitochondria as the cellular components that pay the ultimate price.
We have come along way since scientists first coined the phrase “oxidative stress” 40 years ago. This article documents milestones in the history of research into oxidative stress. In addition, emerging findings into the relationship between oxidative stress and several other conditions such as autism, depression, and bipolar disorder are discussed. You can’t help wonder if we are only just scratching the tip of the iceberg with regards to our knowledge about oxidative stress.
Morris G, Berk M. The many roads to mitochondrial dysfunction in neuroimmune and neuropsychiatric disorders. BMC Medicine 2015, 13:68 doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0310-y