Mitochondria, oxygen free radicals, disease and ageing

Trends Biochem Sci. 2000 Oct;25(10):502-8. doi: 10.1016/s0968-0004(00)01674-1.


Superoxide is generated by the mitochondrial respiratory chain. The transformation of this superoxide into hydrogen peroxide and, under certain conditions, then into hydroxyl radicals is important in diseases where respiratory chain function is abnormal or where superoxide dismutase function is altered, as in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, these reactive oxygen species can influence the ageing process through mechanisms involving mutagenesis of mtDNA or increased rates of shortening of telomeric DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Disease
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Electron Transport Complex III / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / deficiency
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxides
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Electron Transport Complex III