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Biochemistry (Mosc). 2005 Feb;70(2):215-21.

Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species: friends or foes?

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Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119992, Russia.


Chemical and physiological functions of molecular oxygen and reactive oxygen species (ROS) and existing equilibrium between pools of pro-oxidants and anti-oxidants providing steady state ROS level vital for normal mitochondrial and cell functioning are reviewed. The presence of intracellular oxygen and ROS sensors is postulated and few candidates for this role are suggested. Possible involvement of ROS in the process of fragmentation of mitochondrial reticulum made of long mitochondrial filaments serving in the cell as "electric cables", as well as the role of ROS in apoptosis and programmed mitochondrial destruction (mitoptosis) are reviewed. The critical role of ROS in destructive processes under ischemia/reoxygenation and ischemic preconditioning is discussed. Mitochondrial permeability transition gets special consideration as a possible component of the apoptotic cascade, resulting in excessive "ROS-induced ROS release".

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