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Free radicals in brain metabolism and pathology

Reactive oxygen metabolites (ROM), namely superoxide and hydroxyl free radicals and hydrogen peroxide, are produced as a consequence of the physiological metabolic reactions and functioning of the central nervous system. ROM have also been implicated in the aetiopathogenic processes of a number of pathological conditions of the brain.

 While primarily indirect, evidence for this view is accumulating, and credence for the participation of free radical oxidative interactions in promoting tissue injury in such conditions as brain trauma, ischaemia, and toxicity, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's dementia, multiple sclerosis, and lipofuscinosis, is growing.

 Concomitant with this new understanding of the injurious role of free radical oxidants in neural pathology, is the increasing appreciation for the need for both fundamental and clinical research into the development of the potential preventative and therapeutic benefits that are now being foreseen for a variety of antioxidant nutritional and pharmacological interventions.