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Pathol Oncol Res. 2014 Jan;20(1):1-10. doi: 10.1007/s12253-013-9698-x. Epub 2013 Oct 15.

Xanthine oxido-reductase, free radicals and cardiovascular disease. A critical review.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Recherche Ophtalmologique, Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris, Paris, France.


Free radical mediated pathologies occupy a special place in medical semiology and in mechanistic interpretation of diseases. Free radicals, or better reactive oxygen species (ROS) or reactive nitrogen species (RNS) play also an important role in cell signaling. This is the basis of the ambivalent (Jekyll-Hyde) situation of ROS in biology and pathology. Aging itself is attributed by a popular theory to free radicals. A number of ROS-scavenging substances and procedures were described without however reaching credibility for their therapeutic value. An interesting exception is the xanthine oxido-reductase produced ROS and their role in cardiovascular disease. Allopurinol inhibition of xanthine oxido-reductase was shown to be efficient in some cases of cardiovascular diseases. Another important aspect of xanthine oxido-reductase produced ROS is their antibacterial capacity considered to be of importance with newborns fed on milk rich in this enzyme as well as at the gastrointestinal barrier. This ambivalent role of xanthine oxido-reductase justifies this review on the basic enzymatic mechanisms involved, derived ROS production, their role in the above mentioned biological processes and especially the interest of the inhibition of this enzyme as a preventive or curative measure in some cardiovascular pathologies.

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