While antioxidants are on everyone's lips, antireductants are their much less-known counterparts. Following an antioxidant's definition, an antireductant prevents the chemical reduction of another compound by undergoing reduction itself. Antireductants have been traced back as far as the origin of life, which they facilitated by removal of atmospheric dihydrogen, H2. Moreover, as electron acceptors, antireductants equipped the first metabolic pathways, enabling lithoautotrophic microbial growth. When the Earth's atmosphere became more oxidizing, certain antireductants revealed their Janus-face by acting as antioxidants. Both capacities, united in one compound, were detected in primary as well as plant secondary metabolites. Substantiated by product identification, such antireductants comprise antiradicals (e.g. carotenoids) up to diminishers of ruminal methane emission (e.g. fumarate, catechin or resveratrol). Beyond these Janus-faced, multifunctional compounds, the spectrum of antireductants extends to pure electron-attractors (e.g. atmospheric triplet oxygen, O2, for plant root and gut protection). Current and prospective fields of antireductant application range from health promotion over industrial production to environmental sustainability.
Becker, P. M. (2016). Antireduction: an ancient strategy fit for future. Bioscience Reports, 36(4), e00367–e00367. https://doi.org/10.1042/bsr20160085