Send to

Choose Destination
Amino Acids. 2006 Oct;31(3):341-55. Epub 2006 May 10.

Non-irradiation-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cancer: therapeutic implications.

Author information

Department of Biochemical Sciences A. Rossi Fanelli, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Owing to their chemical reactivity, radicals have cytocidal properties. Destruction of cells by irradiation-induced radical formation is one of the most frequent interventions in cancer therapy. An alternative to irradiation-induced radical formation is in principle drug-induced formation of radicals, and the formation of toxic metabolites by enzyme catalysed reactions. Although these developments are currently still in their infancy, they nevertheless deserve consideration. There are now numerous examples known of conventional anti-cancer drugs that may at least in part exert cytotoxicity by induction of radical formation. Some drugs, such as arsenic trioxide and 2-methoxy-estradiol, were shown to induce programmed cell death due to radical formation. Enzyme-catalysed radical formation has the advantage that cytotoxic products are produced continuously over an extended period of time in the vicinity of tumour cells. Up to now the enzymatic formation of toxic metabolites has nearly exclusively been investigated using bovine serum amine oxidase (BSAO), and spermine as substrate. The metabolites of this reaction, hydrogen peroxide and aldehydes are cytotoxic. The combination of BSAO and spermine is not only able to prevent tumour cell growth, but prevents also tumour growth, particularly well if the enzyme has been conjugated with a biocompatible gel. Since the tumour cells release substrates of BSAO, the administration of spermine is not required. Combination with cytotoxic drugs, and elevation of temperature improves the cytocidal effect of spermine metabolites. The fact that multidrug resistant cells are more sensitive to spermine metabolites than their wild type counterparts makes this new approach especially attractive, since the development of multidrug resistance is one of the major problems of conventional cancer therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center