The evolution of free radicals and oxidative stress

Am J Med. 2000 Jun 1;108(8):652-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00412-5.


The superoxide free radical has come to occupy an amazingly central role in a wide variety of diseases. Our metabolic focus on aerobic energy metabolism in all cell types, coupled with some chemical peculiarities of the oxygen molecule itself, contribute to the phenomenon. Superoxide is not, as we once thought, just a toxic but unavoidable byproduct of oxygen metabolism. Rather it appears to be a carefully regulated metabolite capable of signaling and communicating important information to the cell's genetic machinery. Redox regulation of gene expression by superoxide and other related oxidants and antioxidants is beginning to unfold as a vital mechanism in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Free Radicals / adverse effects*
  • Free Radicals / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Oxidants
  • Superoxide Dismutase