Nuclear factor kappa B: an oxidative stress-responsive transcription factor of eukaryotic cells (a review)

Free Radic Res Commun. 1992;17(4):221-37. doi: 10.3109/10715769209079515.


NF-kappa B is a multiprotein complex that can activate a great variety of genes involved in early defence reactions of higher organisms. In nonstimulated cells, NF-kappa B resides in the cytoplasm in an inactive complex with the inhibitor I kappa B. Pathogenic stimuli cause release of I kappa B and allow NF-kappa B to enter the nucleus, bind to DNA control elements and, thereby, induce the synthesis of mRNA. A puzzling feature of NF-kappa B is that its activation is triggered by a great variety of agents. These include the cytokines interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor, viruses, double-stranded RNA, endotoxins, phorbol esters, UV light and ionizing radiation. We recently found that also low concentrations of H2O2 activate NF-kappa B and that various antioxidants prevent the induction by H2O2. Subsequent analysis revealed that antioxidants not only suppress the activation of NF-kappa B by H2O2 but by all other inducers tested so far. In this review, we will discuss the evidences that NF-kappa B is an oxidative stress-responsive transcription factor of higher eukaryotic cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NF-kappa B / biosynthesis
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • NF-kappa B
  • Hydrogen Peroxide