The development of metabolic dysfunctions like diabetes and insulin resistance in mammals is regulated by a myriad of factors. Oxidative stress seems to play a central role in this process as recent evidence shows a general increase in oxidative damage and a decrease in oxidative defense associated with several metabolic diseases. These changes in oxidative stress can be directly correlated with increased fat accumulation, obesity, and consumption of high-calorie/high-fat diets. Modulation of oxidant protection through either genetic mutation or treatment with antioxidants can significantly alter oxidative stress resistance and accumulation of oxidative damage in laboratory rodents. Antioxidant mutant mice have previously been utilized to examine the role of oxidative stress in other disease models, but have been relatively unexplored as models to study the regulation of glucose metabolism. In this review, we will discuss the evidence for oxidative stress as a primary mechanism linking obesity and metabolic disorders and whether alteration of antioxidant status in laboratory rodents can significantly alter the development of insulin resistance or diabetes.
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