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The role of oxidative stress in the genesis of heart disease

Pawan K Singal, Neelam Khaper, Vince Palace, Dinender Kumar
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0008-6363(98)00244-2 426-432 First published online: 1 December 1998

Abstract

Although researchers in radiation and cancer biology have known about the existence of free radicals and their potential role in pathobiology for several decades, cardiac biologists only began to take notice of these noxious species in the 1970s. Exponential growth of free radical research occurred after the discovery of superoxide dismutase in 1969. This antioxidant enzyme is responsible for the dismutation of superoxide radical — a free radical chain initiator. A fine balance between free radicals and a variety of endogenous antioxidants is believed to exist. Any disturbance in this equilibrium in favour of free radicals causes an increase in oxidative stress and initiates subcellular changes leading to cardiomyopathy and heart failure. Our knowledge about the role of free radicals in the pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction is fast approaching the point where newer therapies employing antioxidants are in sight.

Keywords
  • Free radicals
  • Antioxidants
  • Heart failure
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