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      How mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species


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          The production of ROS (reactive oxygen species) by mammalian mitochondria is important because it underlies oxidative damage in many pathologies and contributes to retrograde redox signalling from the organelle to the cytosol and nucleus. Superoxide (O 2 •−) is the proximal mitochondrial ROS, and in the present review I outline the principles that govern O 2 •− production within the matrix of mammalian mitochondria. The flux of O 2 •− is related to the concentration of potential electron donors, the local concentration of O 2 and the second-order rate constants for the reactions between them. Two modes of operation by isolated mitochondria result in significant O 2 •− production, predominantly from complex I: (i) when the mitochondria are not making ATP and consequently have a high Δp (protonmotive force) and a reduced CoQ (coenzyme Q) pool; and (ii) when there is a high NADH/NAD + ratio in the mitochondrial matrix. For mitochondria that are actively making ATP, and consequently have a lower Δp and NADH/NAD + ratio, the extent of O 2 •− production is far lower. The generation of O 2 •− within the mitochondrial matrix depends critically on Δp, the NADH/NAD + and CoQH 2/CoQ ratios and the local O 2 concentration, which are all highly variable and difficult to measure in vivo. Consequently, it is not possible to estimate O 2 •− generation by mitochondria in vivo from O 2 •−-production rates by isolated mitochondria, and such extrapolations in the literature are misleading. Even so, the description outlined here facilitates the understanding of factors that favour mitochondrial ROS production. There is a clear need to develop better methods to measure mitochondrial O 2 •− and H 2O 2 formation in vivo, as uncertainty about these values hampers studies on the role of mitochondrial ROS in pathological oxidative damage and redox signalling.

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          Electron transfers in chemistry and biology

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            Free radicals in the physiological control of cell function.

            At high concentrations, free radicals and radical-derived, nonradical reactive species are hazardous for living organisms and damage all major cellular constituents. At moderate concentrations, however, nitric oxide (NO), superoxide anion, and related reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role as regulatory mediators in signaling processes. Many of the ROS-mediated responses actually protect the cells against oxidative stress and reestablish "redox homeostasis." Higher organisms, however, have evolved the use of NO and ROS also as signaling molecules for other physiological functions. These include regulation of vascular tone, monitoring of oxygen tension in the control of ventilation and erythropoietin production, and signal transduction from membrane receptors in various physiological processes. NO and ROS are typically generated in these cases by tightly regulated enzymes such as NO synthase (NOS) and NAD(P)H oxidase isoforms, respectively. In a given signaling protein, oxidative attack induces either a loss of function, a gain of function, or a switch to a different function. Excessive amounts of ROS may arise either from excessive stimulation of NAD(P)H oxidases or from less well-regulated sources such as the mitochondrial electron-transport chain. In mitochondria, ROS are generated as undesirable side products of the oxidative energy metabolism. An excessive and/or sustained increase in ROS production has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, ischemia/reperfusion injury, obstructive sleep apnea, and other diseases. In addition, free radicals have been implicated in the mechanism of senescence. That the process of aging may result, at least in part, from radical-mediated oxidative damage was proposed more than 40 years ago by Harman (J Gerontol 11: 298-300, 1956). There is growing evidence that aging involves, in addition, progressive changes in free radical-mediated regulatory processes that result in altered gene expression.
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              Hydroperoxide metabolism in mammalian organs.


                Author and article information

                Biochem J
                Biochemical Journal
                Portland Press Ltd.
                12 December 2008
                1 January 2009
                : 417
                : Pt 1
                : 1-13
                MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0XY, U.K.
                Author notes
                © 2009 The Author(s) The author(s) has paid for this article to be freely available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 8 July 2008
                : 13 August 2008
                : 14 August 2008
                Page count
                Figures: 5, Equations: 4, References: 132, Pages: 13
                Review Article

                superoxide,ret, reverse electron transport,ros, reactive oxygen species,respiratory chain,α-gpdh, α-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase,sod, superoxide dismutase,coqh2, reduced coq,αkgdh, 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase),etf, electron transfer flavoprotein,hydrogen peroxide,reactive oxygen species (ros),mitochondrion,coq, coenzyme q,smp, submitochondrial particle,hif-1, hypoxia-inducible factor-1,complex i,dpi, diphenyleneiodonium,phd, prolyl hydroxylase


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