Oxidative stress occurs when cellular mechanisms to regulate levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are overwhelmed due to overproduction of ROS and/or deficiency of antioxidants. This chapter describes accumulating evidence that oxidative stress is involved in ovarian toxicity caused by diverse stimuli, including environmental toxicants. There is strong evidence that ROS are involved in initiation of apoptosis in antral follicles caused by several chemical and physical agents. Although less attention has been focused on the roles of ROS in primordial and primary follicle death, several studies have shown protective effects of antioxidants and/or evidence of oxidative damage, suggesting that ROS may play a role in these smaller follicles as well. Oxidative damage to lipids in the oocyte has been implicated as a cause of persistently poor oocyte quality after early life exposure to several toxicants. Developing germ cells in the fetal ovary have also been shown to be sensitive to toxicants and ionizing radiation, which induce oxidative stress. Recent studies have begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which ROS mediate ovarian toxicity.
Keywords: Cyclophosphamide; Granulosa cell; Ionizing radiation; Methoxychlor; Oocyte; Ovarian follicle; Ovary; Oxidative stress; Phthalates; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
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