The toxicity of metronidazole (MTZ) in meristematic and elongation zones of Allium cepa roots was analyzed for 30 h of exposition. Toxic effects were evaluated by lipid peroxidation (content of thiobarbituric-reactive substances [TBARS]), reduced glutathione (GSH) levels, ascorbate acid and dehydroascorbate acid content, and enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase and catalase. The root zones showed differentiated susceptibility to MTZ. In the elongation zone, MTZ induced an increase of TBARS content and a significant rise in GSH levels, whereas in the meristematic zone, lipid peroxidation was not observed and all antioxidant defense parameters analyzed were significantly increased. These results indicate that MTZ exposure induced oxidative stress in A. cepa roots, and that the antioxidant defenses in the meristematic zone are more efficient compared with the elongation zone, which is probably related to higher oxidative metabolism of meristematic tissue. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 968–972. © 2012 SETAC
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