Oxidants in Daily Life and Common Health Conditions

Oxidants are closely intertwined with inflammation and they are a result and at the same time a cause of inflammation. Oxidants are generated directly and indirectly as a byproduct of inflammatory cell activities. Oxidants in turn play an important role in recruiting inflammatory cells to the site of inflammation, magnifying the inflammatory process.

Oxidants are an integral part of inflammation in another sense as well. When phagocytes (inflammatory cells with scavenging capabilities) engulf microorganisms, their respiration surges in response, generating a large amount of electrons (respiratory bursts). These electrons are all funneled into phagosomes, the vesicles containing the engulfed organisms, and let to react with the oxygen inside, producing highly deadly oxidants lethal to the organisms contained. This is one of a few benefits we get from oxidants, but the benefit is an indispensable one.

There is a hereditary condition called chronic granulomatous disease. The patient with this condition lacks the enzyme required in respiratory bursts and therefore is unable to produce sufficient amounts of oxidants within the phagosomes. They repeatedly succumb to bacterial and fungal infections and do not live very long.

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