IMR Press / FBS / Volume 3 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.2741/S161

Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Cold defence responses: the role of oxidative stress
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1 Department of Physiology, Institute for Biological Research Sinisa Stankovic, University of Belgrade, Bulevar Despota Stefana 142, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia
2 Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Trg Dositeja Obradovica 2, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2011, 3(2), 416–427;
Published: 1 January 2011

Low temperatures provoke increased production of heat accompanied by increased respiration, oxygen consumption and the production of partially reduced oxygen species called ROS. ROS induce different forms of cellular oxidative damage, disturb the redox state and can change the activity of several metabolic enzymes. Organisms have developed a functionally connected set of anti-oxidant enzymes and low molecular mass compounds (together termed the ADS) that metabolise primary ROS. If ROS production within cells overwhelms the ADS, oxidative damage arises and oxidative stress can occur. Short-term cold exposure in endotherms leads to oxidative stress. As cold exposure persists organisms develop adaptive changes toward reducing ROS production and increasing the ADS. In contrast, heterotherms and ectotherms as a normal part of their over-wintering strategy slow down metabolism, oxygen consumption and subsequently cause ROS production. Increased baseline activity of key anti-oxidant enzymes as well as 'secondary' enzymatic defence and/or glutathione levels in preparation for a putative oxidative stressful situation arising from tissue re-oxygenation seems to be the preferred evolutionary adaptation of such animals exposed to low environmental temperatures.

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