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Biomolecules 2015, 5(2), 472-484;

Biological Activities of Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species: Oxidative Stress versus Signal Transduction

Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology, AUVA Research Center, Donaueschingenstraße 13, 1200 Vienna, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Peter Eckl and Michael Breitenbach
Received: 3 February 2015 / Revised: 30 March 2015 / Accepted: 2 April 2015 / Published: 15 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oxidative Stress and Oxygen Radicals)
PDF [242 KB, uploaded 15 April 2015]


In the past, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) were shown to cause oxidative damage to biomolecules, contributing to the development of a variety of diseases. However, recent evidence has suggested that intracellular RONS are an important component of intracellular signaling cascades. The aim of this review was to consolidate old and new ideas on the chemical, physiological and pathological role of RONS for a better understanding of their properties and specific activities. Critical consideration of the literature reveals that deleterious effects do not appear if only one primary species (superoxide radical, nitric oxide) is present in a biological system, even at high concentrations. The prerequisite of deleterious effects is the formation of highly reactive secondary species (hydroxyl radical, peroxynitrite), emerging exclusively upon reaction with another primary species or a transition metal. The secondary species are toxic, not well controlled, causing irreversible damage to all classes of biomolecules. In contrast, primary RONS are well controlled (superoxide dismutase, catalase), and their reactions with biomolecules are reversible, making them ideal for physiological/pathophysiological intracellular signaling. We assume that whether RONS have a signal transducing or damaging effect is primarily defined by their quality, being primary or secondary RONS, and only secondly by their quantity. View Full-Text
Keywords: superoxide radical; hydrogen peroxide; hydroxyl radical; nitric oxide; mitochondria superoxide radical; hydrogen peroxide; hydroxyl radical; nitric oxide; mitochondria

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Weidinger, A.; Kozlov, A.V. Biological Activities of Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species: Oxidative Stress versus Signal Transduction. Biomolecules 2015, 5, 472-484.

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