EPR Area

Free radicals and oxidative stress

Free radicals participate to tissue physiological metabolic processes by reversibly altering the activity/function of specific target molecules. In presence of chemical, physical and biological agents, levels of free radicals can be significantly and permanently increased. This condition, called oxidative stress, is associated with the inability of antioxidant defenses to detoxify free radicals. It induces irreversible damage to proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids and is considered one of the main causes of the etiopathogenesis of chronic-degenerative human diseases on an inflammatory basis (cardiovascular, neurological, autoimmune), diabetes, cancer.

EPR spectroscopy is the elective technique for studying the formation of free radicals in biological systems ex vivo/in vitro allowing to monitor the kinetics of formation, to identify the nature and the metabolic pathways involved. Compared to other techniques of measurement of oxidative stress, EPR allows a direct monitoring of the primary species, instead of its effect. Stable radicals or products at high concentrations can be monitored as they are. The unstable radicals or products at low concentrations can be monitored by means of the spin trapping technique, which uses reagents (spin traps) able to covalently bind the formed radicals and form stable complexes (adducts) detectable in EPR.

Contact: Donatella Pietraforte
+39 06 4990 2907