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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Sep;8(9):722-8.

Hydrogen peroxide: a metabolic by-product or a common mediator of ageing signals?

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  • 1Marco Giorgio, Enrica Migliaccio and Pier Giuseppe Pelicci are at the Department of Experimental Oncology, IEO-European Institute of Oncology, and IFOM-FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology, 20139 Milan, Italy.


The reactive oxygen species that are generated by mitochondrial respiration, including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), are potent inducers of oxidative damage and mediators of ageing. It is not clear, however, whether oxidative stress is the result of a genetic programme or the by-product of physiological processes. Recent findings demonstrate that a fraction of mitochondrial H2O2, produced by a specialized enzyme as a signalling molecule in the pathway of apoptosis, induces intracellular oxidative stress and accelerates ageing. We propose that genes that control H2O2 production are selected determinants of lifespan.

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