Reactive sulfur species: an emerging concept in oxidative stress

Biol Chem. Mar-Apr 2002;383(3-4):375-88. doi: 10.1515/BC.2002.042.


The ingredients of oxidative stress include a variety of reactive species such as reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species (ROS, RNS). While sulfur is usually considered as part of cellular antioxidant systems there is mounting evidence that reactive sulfur species (RSS) with stressor properties similar to the ones found in ROS are formed under conditions of oxidative stress. Thiols as well as disulfides are easily oxidised to sulfur species with sulfur in higher oxidation states. Such agents include thiyl radicals, disulfides, sulfenic acids and disulfide-S-oxides. They rapidly oxidise and subsequently inhibit thiol-proteins and enzymes and can be considered as a separate class of oxidative stressors providing new antioxidant drug targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Sulfides / metabolism*
  • Sulfur / metabolism*


  • Oxidants
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfur
  • Nitrogen