Poly(adenosine 5'-diphosphate) ribose polymerase activation as a cause of metabolic dysfunction in critical illness

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2002 Mar;5(2):175-84. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200203000-00010.


Poly(adenosine 5'-diphosphate) ribose polymerase is a nuclear enzyme activated in response to genotoxic stress induced by a variety of DNA damaging agents. Several oxygen and nitrogen-centered free radicals, notably peroxynitrite, are strong inducers of DNA damage and poly(adenosine 5'-diphosphate) ribose polymerase activation in vitro and in vivo. Activation of this nuclear enzyme depletes the intracellular stores of its substrate nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, slowing the rate of glycolysis, mitochondrial electron transport and adenosine triphosphate formation. This process triggers a severe energetic crisis within the cell, leading to acute cell dysfunction and cell necrosis. Poly(adenosine 5'-diphosphate) ribose polymerase also plays an important role in the regulation of inflammatory cascades, through a functional association with various transcription factors and transcription co-activators. Recent works identified this enzyme as a critical mediator of cellular metabolic dysfunction, inflammatory injury, and organ damage in conditions associated with overwhelming oxidative stress, including systemic inflammation, circulatory shock, and ischemia-reperfusion. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibitors of poly(adenosine 5'-diphosphate) ribose polymerase protect against cell death and tissue injury in such conditions, and may therefore represent novel therapeutic tools to limit multiple organ damage and dysfunction in critically ill patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness*
  • DNA Damage
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Multiple Organ Failure / metabolism*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism*


  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases