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Med Sci (Paris). 2011 Apr;27(4):405-12. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2011274017. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

[Reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress].

[Article in French]

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Université Lyon 1, EA 41-69, Laboratoire de recherche dermatologique, Pavillon R, Hôpital Édouard Herriot, 69437 Lyon Cedex 03, France.


Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the antioxidant capacity of the cell. For long, ROS have been considered as harmful by-products of the normal aerobic metabolism process of the mitochondria, implicated in a large variety of diseases. But there are now growing evidences that controlled ROS production also play physiological roles especially in regulating cell redox homeostasis and cell signaling. Biological ROS effects are now well documented. Data show that living organisms have not only adapted themselves to coexist with free radicals but have also developed mechanisms to use them advantageously. However their main sources and mechanisms of action remain poorly described. This review focuses on the main properties of ROS and their paradoxical effects.

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