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Approaches And Methods To Measure Oxidative Stress In Clinical Samples: Research Applications In The Cancer Field

Meghri Katerji, Maria Filippova, Penelope Duerksen-Hughes

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are common by-products of normal aerobic cellular metabolism and play important physiological roles in intracellular cell signaling and homeostasis. The human body is equipped with antioxidant systems to regulate the levels of these free radicals and maintain proper physiological function. However, a condition known as oxidative stress (OS) occurs, when ROS overwhelm the body’s ability to readily detoxify them. Excessive amounts of free radicals generated under OS conditions cause oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, severely compromising cell health and contributing to disease development, including cancer. Biomarkers of OS can therefore be exploited as important tools in the assessment of disease status in humans. In the present review, we discuss different approaches used for the evaluation of OS in clinical samples. The described methods are limited in their ability to reflect on OS only partially, revealing the need of more integrative approaches examining both pro- and antioxidant reactions with higher sensitivity to physiological/pathological alternations. We also provide an overview of recent findings of OS in patients with different types of cancer. Identification of OS biomarkers in clinical samples of cancer patients and defining their roles in carcinogenesis hold great promise in promoting the development of targeted therapeutic approaches and diagnostic strategies assessing disease status. However, considerable data variability across laboratories makes it difficult to draw general conclusions on the significance of these OS biomarkers. To our knowledge, no adequate comparison has yet been performed between different biomarkers and the methodologies used to measure them, making it difficult to conduct a meta-analysis of findings from different groups. A critical evaluation and adaptation of proposed methodologies available in the literature should therefore be undertaken, to enable the investigators to choose the most suitable procedure for each chosen biomarker.