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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2002 Aug 22;132(1):17-41.

Significance of ROS in oxygen sensing in cell systems with sensitivity to physiological hypoxia.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Biologia Molecular y Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto de Biología y Genética Molecular, Universidad de Valladolid y CSIC, 47005 Valladolid, Spain.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are oxygen-containing molecular entities which are more potent and effective oxidizing agents than is molecular oxygen itself. With the exception of phagocytic cells, where ROS play an important physiological role in defense reactions, ROS have classically been considered undesirable byproducts of cell metabolism, existing several cellular mechanisms aimed to dispose them. Recently, however, ROS have been considered important intracellular signaling molecules, which may act as mediators or second messengers in many cell functions. This is the proposed role for ROS in oxygen sensing in systems, such as carotid body chemoreceptor cells, pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells, and erythropoietin-producing cells. These unique cells comprise essential parts of homeostatic loops directed to maintain oxygen levels in multicellular organisms in situations of hypoxia. The present article examines the possible significance of ROS in these three cell systems, and proposes a set of criteria that ROS should satisfy for their consideration as mediators in hypoxic transduction cascades. In none of the three cell types do ROS satisfy these criteria, and thus it appears that alternative mechanisms are responsible for the transduction cascades linking hypoxia to the release of neurotransmitters in chemoreceptor cells, contraction in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells and erythropoietin secretion in erythropoietin producing cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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