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Histochem Cell Biol. 2004 Oct;122(4):383-93. Epub 2004 Jul 8.

Mammalian peroxisomes and reactive oxygen species.

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Department of Cell Biology and Cell Pathology, University of Marburg, Robert Koch Strasse 6, 35037, Marburg, Germany.


The central role of peroxisomes in the generation and scavenging of hydrogen peroxide has been well known ever since their discovery almost four decades ago. Recent studies have revealed their involvement in metabolism of oxygen free radicals and nitric oxide that have important functions in intra- and intercellular signaling. The analysis of the role of mammalian peroxisomes in a variety of physiological and pathological processes involving reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the subject of this review. The general characteristics of peroxisomes and their enzymes involved in the metabolism of ROS are briefly reviewed. An expansion of the peroxisomal compartment with proliferation of tubular peroxisomes is observed in cells exposed to UV irradiation and various oxidants and is apparently accompanied by upregulation of PEX genes. Significant reduction of peroxisomes and their enzymes is observed in inflammatory processes including infections, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and allograft rejection and seems to be related to the suppressive effect of tumor necrosis factor-alpha on peroxisome function and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-alpha. Xenobiotic-induced proliferation of peroxisomes in rodents is accompanied by the formation of hepatic tumors, and evidently the imbalance in generation and decomposition of ROS plays an important role in this process. In PEX5-/- knockout mice lacking functional peroxisomes severe alterations of mitochondria in various organs are observed which seem to be due to a generalized increase in oxidative stress confirming the important role of peroxisomes in homeostasis of ROS and the implications of its disturbances for cell pathology.

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