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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2002 Feb;21(2):71-5.

Reactive oxygen species as double-edged swords in cellular processes: low-dose cell signaling versus high-dose toxicity.

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Laboratory of Environmental Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


ROS are diverse and abundant in biological systems. While excessive ROS production clearly damages DNA, low levels of ROS affect cell signaling particularly at the level of redox modulation. Moreover, the specific contributions of ROS to apoptosis and mitogenesis in maintenance of cell number homeostasis remains to be elucidated. ROS dose is a critical parameter in determining the ultimate cellular response; however the shape of the dose response curve is unpredictable. When cells are stimulated with ROS, cell-signaling cascades are activated. It appears that the cellular redox potential is an important determinant of cell function and interruption of redox balance may adversely affect cell function. As a result, compounds such as antioxidants may intercept critical ROS signaling molecules and both protect cells and foster pathogenesis. As a result, further study is needed to unravel the role of ROS in redox regulation and the potential outcome of antioxidant administration on cellular responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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