Autoxidation and Antioxidants

Authored by: John M. Pezzuto

Encyclopedia of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9781841848198
eBook ISBN: 9781351124874
Adobe ISBN:


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By definition, oxygen is an absolute requirement for aerobic life, but it may also be viewed as toxic under certain conditions. A chemical reaction that usually takes place at ambient temperature between atmospheric oxygen and an organic compound is generally defined as autoxidation. The phenomena of autoxidation are commonly observed in everyday-life. As examples, the browning of fruit, the deterioration of edible oils, and the degeneration of old rubber bands are the results of autoxidation. In the human body, free radicals produced during autoxidation processes are commonly encountered as well. This is a normal part of human physiology, as long as defense systems are effective, but overproduction or failure to scavenge free radicals can give rise to toxic biological responses that can yield deterioration and degeneration of cells, tissues or organisms.

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