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Mutat Res. 2004 Sep;567(1):1-61.

Oxidative DNA damage and disease: induction, repair and significance.

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  • 1Oxidative Stress Group, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, LE2 7LX, UK.


The generation of reactive oxygen species may be both beneficial to cells, performing a function in inter- and intracellular signalling, and detrimental, modifying cellular biomolecules, accumulation of which has been associated with numerous diseases. Of the molecules subject to oxidative modification, DNA has received the greatest attention, with biomarkers of exposure and effect closest to validation. Despite nearly a quarter of a century of study, and a large number of base- and sugar-derived DNA lesions having been identified, the majority of studies have focussed upon the guanine modification, 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG). For the most part, the biological significance of other lesions has not, as yet, been investigated. In contrast, the description and characterisation of enzyme systems responsible for repairing oxidative DNA base damage is growing rapidly, being the subject of intense study. However, there remain notable gaps in our knowledge of which repair proteins remove which lesions, plus, as more lesions identified, new processes/substrates need to be determined. There are many reports describing elevated levels of oxidatively modified DNA lesions, in various biological matrices, in a plethora of diseases; however, for the majority of these the association could merely be coincidental, and more detailed studies are required. Nevertheless, even based simply upon reports of studies investigating the potential role of 8-OH-dG in disease, the weight of evidence strongly suggests a link between such damage and the pathogenesis of disease. However, exact roles remain to be elucidated.

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