Chromosomal DNA fragmentation in apoptosis and necrosis induced by oxidative stress

Biochem Pharmacol. 2003 Oct 15;66(8):1527-35. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(03)00508-2.


Chromosomal DNA dysfunction plays a role in mammalian cell death. Oxidative stress producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) induces chromatin dysfunction such as single- and double-strand DNA fragmentation leading to cell death through apoptosis or necrosis. More than 1 Mbp giant DNA, 200-800 or 50-300 kbp high molecular weight (HMW) DNA and internucleosomal DNA fragments are produced by oxidative stress and by some agents producing ROS during apoptosis or necrosis in several types of mammalian cells. Some nucleases involved in the chromosomal DNA fragmentation in apoptosis or necrosis are classified. ROS-mediated DNA fragmentation is caused and enhanced by polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or their hydroperoxides through lipid peroxidation. A reduction of intracellular GSH levels induced by the inhibition of cystein transport or GSH biosynthesis leads to cell death through over production and accumulation of ROS in some types of mammalian cells. The ROS accumulation system has been used as a model of oxidative stress to discuss whether ROS-mediated DNA fragmentation associated with cell death is based on apoptosis or necrosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • DNA Fragmentation / physiology*
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Glutathione / deficiency
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Necrosis
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Deoxyribonucleases
  • Glutathione