Oxidative stress (OS) occurs when the generation of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) overwhelms the antioxidant capacity. OS causes storage lesions which can be defined as a series of biochemical and biomechanical changes. Erythrocytes are constantly exposed to OS due to the presence of ROS, which are countered by the endogenous antioxidant system. Various irreversible changes that occur include fragmentation and aggregation of proteins and lipids. The changes in proteins, lipids and antioxidant capacity are used as OS biomarkers to assess the efficacy of the erythrocytes, post oxidative insult. Aging of erythrocytes is also associated with the changes in its physical, biochemical and physiological properties and OS causes its rapid aging. Bacterial and viral infections also cause OS which alters the erythrocytes’ antioxidant capacity. These modulations in its microenvironment are both beneficial in terms of protection against invading microorganisms as well as harmful to the erythrocytes, causing damage to surrounding cells and tissues. Thus, OS biomarkers can be used to gain insights into the effects of bacterial and viral infections on the erythrocyte microenvironment.
Part of the book: Erythrocyte