Oxygen free radical and lipid peroxides (oxidative stress) are highly reactive and represent very damaging compounds. Oxidative stress could be a major contributing factor to the tissue injury and fibrosis that characterize Crohn's disease. An imbalance between increased reactive oxygen species levels and decreased antioxidant defenses occurs in Crohn's patients. Decreased blood levels of vitamins C and E and decreased intestinal mucosal levels of CuZn superoxide dismutase, glutathione, vitamin A, C, E, and β-carotene have been reported for Crohn's patients. Increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1 and -8 and tumor necrosis factor, have been detected in inflammatory bowel disease. Oxidative stress significantly increased the production of neutrophils, chemokines, and interleukin-8. These effects were inhibited by antioxidant vitamins and arachidonic acid metabolite inhibitors in human intestinal smooth muscle cells isolated from the bowels of Crohn's disease patients. The main pathological feature of Crohn's disease is an infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils and mononuclear cells into the affected part of the intestine. Activated neutrophils produce noxious substances that cause inflammation and tissue injury. Due to the physiological and biochemical actions of reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxides, many of the clinical and pathophysiological features of Crohn's disease might be explained by an imbalance of increased reactive oxygen species and a net decrease of antioxidant molecules. This review describes the general concepts of free radical, lipid peroxide and antioxidant activities and eventually illustrates their interferences in the development of Crohn's strictures.
Keywords: Antioxidant enzymes; Crohn’s disease; Lipid peroxide; Reactive oxygen species.