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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012, Article ID 480895, 12 pages
Review Article

The Neglected Significance of “Antioxidative Stress”

1Laboratory of Oxidative Stress Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena pot 5, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 18 January 2012; Accepted 17 February 2012

Academic Editor: Felipe Dal-Pizzol

Copyright © 2012 B. Poljsak and I. Milisav. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Oxidative stress arises when there is a marked imbalance between the production and removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in favor of the prooxidant balance, leading to potential oxidative damage. ROSs were considered traditionally to be only a toxic byproduct of aerobic metabolism. However, recently, it has become apparent that ROS might control many different physiological processes such as induction of stress response, pathogen defense, and systemic signaling. Thus, the imbalance of the increased antioxidant potential, the so-called antioxidative stress, should be as dangerous as well. Here, we synthesize increasing evidence on “antioxidative stress-induced” beneficial versus harmful roles on health, disease, and aging processes. Oxidative stress is not necessarily an un-wanted situation, since its consequences may be beneficial for many physiological reactions in cells. On the other hand, there are potentially harmful effects of “antioxidative stress,” especially in the cases of overconsumption of synthetic antioxidants. Antioxidants can neutralize ROS and decrease oxidative stress; however, this is not always beneficial in regard to disease formation or progression (of, e.g., cancer) or for delaying aging.