Oxygen radical disease in the newborn, revisited: Oxidative stress and disease in the newborn period

Marta Perez, Mary E. Robbins, Cecilie Revhaug, Ola D. Saugstad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Thirty years ago, there was an emerging appreciation for the significance of oxidative stress in newborn disease. This prompted a renewed interest in the impact of oxygen therapy for the newborn in the delivery room and beyond, especially in premature infants. Today, the complexity of oxidative stress both in normal regulation and pathology is better understood, especially as it relates to neonatal mitochondrial oxidative stress responses to hyperoxia. Mitochondria are recipients of oxidative damage and have a propensity for oxidative self-injury that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of neonatal lung diseases. Similarly, both intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and macrosomia are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Additionally, reoxygenation with 100% O2 in a hypoxic-ischemic newborn lamb model increased the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain. Moreover, the interplay between inflammation and oxidative stress in the newborn is better understood because of animal studies. Transcriptomic analyses have found a number of genes to be differentially expressed in murine models of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Epigenetic changes have also been detected both in animal models of BPD and premature infants exposed to oxygen. Antioxidant therapy to prevent newborn disease has not been very successful; however, new therapeutic principles, like melatonin, are under investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Antioxidant therapy
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)
  • Epigenetic changes
  • Gene-differentiation
  • Growth
  • Inflammation mitochondria
  • Newborn
  • Oxidative stress
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry


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