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Mutat Res. 2001 Apr 18;475(1-2):153-9.

Iron and its sensitive balance in the cell.

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Departamento de Bioquimica, Instituto de Quimica, Universidade de São Paulo, CP 26077, 05599-970, SP, São Paulo, Brazil.


Iron is vital in life because it is an important component of molecules that undergoes redox reactions or transport oxygen. However, the existence of two stable and inter-convertible forms of iron, iron(III) and iron(II), makes possible one electron being transferred to or captured from other species to form radicals. In particular, superoxide and hydroxyl radicals may be formed in these reactions, both with capacity of attacking other molecules. DNA is one important target and a vast literature exists showing that attack of hydroxyl radical to DNA leads to cell death cellular necrosis, apoptosis, mutation and malignant transformation. Therefore, a fine balance must exist at various levels of an organism to maintain iron concentration in a narrow range, above and below which deleterious effects of distinct nature occur. This review will deal with the formation of oxygen reactive species in iron participating reactions, defenses in the organism against these species, the different mechanisms of iron homeostasis and iron deficiency and iron overload related diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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