The Role of Reactive Oxygen Species in Biological Damage and the Effect of Some Chemopreventive Agents

  • Krystyna Frenkel


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be generated by a variety of sources. The best known source is ionizing radiation which causes formation of hydroxyl radicals (·OH), and in the presence of O2, also superoxide anion radicals (·O-2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) (Scholes, 1983). Cellular sources cause the formation of qualitatively the same ROS but in different proportions. These ROS arise by the enzymatically mediated reduction of molecular oxygen utilizing one to four electrons donated by various cellular reducing agents (Aust et al., 1985; Halliwell and Gutteridge, 1986; Vuillaume, 1987; Byczkowski and Gessner, 1988). These enzymatic processes include electron transport and redox cycling of endogenous quinones such as menadione (vitamin K), of chemotherapeutic quinone antibiotics such as adriamycin, daunorubicin, streptonegrin, and bleomycin, or of active agents such as paraquat. ROS can also be produced during oxidative metabolism of xenobiotics, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitroaromatics, and amines (Frenkel et al., 1988a; Leadon et al., 1988; Washburn and Di Giulio, 1988; O’Brien, 1988, Ochi and Kaneko, 1989; Wei and Frenkel, 1992b). Phagocytic cells are a very prolific source of the ROS that are generated during the respiratory burst. I will describe this last process in greater detail a little later.


Reactive Oxygen Species Tumor Promoter Mouse Skin Chemopreventive Agent Retinyl Palmitate 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krystyna Frenkel
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Environmental Medicine and PathologyNew York University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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