Oxidative Stress and Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Kamyar Shahedi, Stephen J Pandol, Richard Hu


Alcoholic pancreatitis is common in the Western world, yet the exact mechanism by which alcohol induces pancreatic damage remains uncertain. Genetic predisposition, pro-inflammatory to inflammatory signal transduction pathways as well as apoptotic properties and oxidative stress have been among the proposed mechanisms, yet the exact mechanism remains the topic of investigation. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules that are generated as metabolic products that react with and damage cellular components. Alcohol promotes the production of ROS while lowering cellular antioxidant levels thereby altering the state of balance between pro and anti-oxidant status leading to oxidative stress in many tissues including the pancreas. Several lines of evidence indicate that oxidative stress plays an important role in the development of alcoholic pancreatitis. Here we review the hypothesis and proposed mechanisms of oxidative stress in alcoholic pancreatitis, the evidence supporting the role of alcohol-induced oxidative stress within the pancreas and the role of emerging antioxidant treatments.

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