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      Role of oxidative stress in female reproduction


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          In a healthy body, ROS (reactive oxygen species) and antioxidants remain in balance. When the balance is disrupted towards an overabundance of ROS, oxidative stress (OS) occurs. OS influences the entire reproductive lifespan of a woman and even thereafter (i.e. menopause). OS results from an imbalance between prooxidants (free radical species) and the body's scavenging ability (antioxidants). ROS are a double-edged sword – they serve as key signal molecules in physiological processes but also have a role in pathological processes involving the female reproductive tract. ROS affect multiple physiological processes from oocyte maturation to fertilization, embryo development and pregnancy. It has been suggested that OS modulates the age-related decline in fertility. It plays a role during pregnancy and normal parturition and in initiation of preterm labor. Most ovarian cancers appear in the surface epithelium, and repetitive ovulation has been thought to be a causative factor. Ovulation-induced oxidative base damage and damage to DNA of the ovarian epithelium can be prevented by antioxidants. There is growing literature on the effects of OS in female reproduction with involvement in the pathophsiology of preeclampsia, hydatidiform mole, free radical-induced birth defects and other situations such as abortions. Numerous studies have shown that OS plays a role in the pathoysiology of infertility and assisted fertility. There is some evidence of its role in endometriosis, tubal and peritoneal factor infertility and unexplained infertility. This article reviews the role OS plays in normal cycling ovaries, follicular development and cyclical endometrial changes. It also discusses OS-related female infertility and how it influences the outcomes of assisted reproductive techniques. The review comprehensively explores the literature for evidence of the role of oxidative stress in conditions such as abortions, preeclampsia, hydatidiform mole, fetal embryopathies, preterm labour and preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. The review also addresses the growing literature on the role of nitric oxide species in female reproduction. The involvement of nitric oxide species in regulation of endometrial and ovarian function, etiopathogenesis of endometriosis, and maintenance of uterine quiescence, initiation of labour and ripening of cervix at parturition is discussed. Complex interplay between cytokines and oxidative stress in the etiology of female reproductive disorders is discussed. Oxidant status of the cell modulates angiogenesis, which is critical for follicular growth, corpus luteum formation endometrial differentiation and embryonic growth is also highlighted in the review. Strategies to overcome oxidative stress and enhance fertility, both natural and assisted are delineated. Early interventions being investigated for prevention of preeclampsia are enumerated. Trials investigating combination intervention strategy of vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation in preventing preeclampsia are highlighted. Antioxidants are powerful and there are few trials investigating antioxidant supplementation in female reproduction. However, before clinicians recommend antioxidants, randomized controlled trials with sufficient power are necessary to prove the efficacy of antioxidant supplementation in disorders of female reproduction. Serial measurement of oxidative stress biomarkers in longitudinal studies may help delineate the etiology of some of the diosorders in female reproduction such as preeclampsia.

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          Oxidative DNA damage and disease: induction, repair and significance.

          The generation of reactive oxygen species may be both beneficial to cells, performing a function in inter- and intracellular signalling, and detrimental, modifying cellular biomolecules, accumulation of which has been associated with numerous diseases. Of the molecules subject to oxidative modification, DNA has received the greatest attention, with biomarkers of exposure and effect closest to validation. Despite nearly a quarter of a century of study, and a large number of base- and sugar-derived DNA lesions having been identified, the majority of studies have focussed upon the guanine modification, 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG). For the most part, the biological significance of other lesions has not, as yet, been investigated. In contrast, the description and characterisation of enzyme systems responsible for repairing oxidative DNA base damage is growing rapidly, being the subject of intense study. However, there remain notable gaps in our knowledge of which repair proteins remove which lesions, plus, as more lesions identified, new processes/substrates need to be determined. There are many reports describing elevated levels of oxidatively modified DNA lesions, in various biological matrices, in a plethora of diseases; however, for the majority of these the association could merely be coincidental, and more detailed studies are required. Nevertheless, even based simply upon reports of studies investigating the potential role of 8-OH-dG in disease, the weight of evidence strongly suggests a link between such damage and the pathogenesis of disease. However, exact roles remain to be elucidated.
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            Free radicals, antioxidants, and human disease: where are we now?

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              Role of reactive oxygen species in the pathophysiology of human reproduction.

              To summarize the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the pathophysiology of human reproduction. Review of literature. Fertility research center and obstetrics and gynecology department in a tertiary care facility. ROS plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of many reproductive processes. In male-factor infertility. oxidative stress attacks the fluidity of the sperm plasma membrane and the integrity of DNA in the sperm nucleus. Reactive oxygen species induced DNA damage may accelerate the process of germ cell apoptosis, leading to the decline in sperm counts associated with male infertility. ROS mediated female fertility disorders share many pathogenic similarities with the ones on the male side. These similarities include a potential role in the pathophysiology of endometriosis and unexplained infertility. High follicular fluid ROS levels are associated with negative IVF outcomes, particularly in smokers. Moreover, oxidative stress may be responsible in hydrosalpingeal fluid mediated embryotoxicity as well as poor in vitro embryonic development. High levels of ROS are detrimental to the fertility potential both in natural and assisted conception states.

                Author and article information

                Reprod Biol Endocrinol
                Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E
                BioMed Central (London )
                14 July 2005
                : 3
                : 28
                [1 ]Center for Advanced Research in Human Reproduction, Infertility, and Sexual Function, Glickman Urological Institute and Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology; The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA
                Copyright © 2005 Agarwal et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 9 May 2005
                : 14 July 2005

                Human biology
                Human biology


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