Redox regulation by intrinsic species and extrinsic nutrients in normal and cancer cells

Annu Rev Nutr. 2005;25:261-95. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.25.050304.092633.


Cells in multicellular organisms are exposed to both endogenous oxidative stresses generated metabolically and to oxidative stresses that originate from neighboring cells and from other tissues. To protect themselves from oxidative stress, cells are equipped with reducing buffer systems (glutathione/GSH and thioredoxin/thioredoxin reductase) and have developed several enzymatic mechanisms against oxidants that include catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase. Other major extrinsic defenses (from the diet) include ascorbic acid, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, and selenium. Recent evidence indicates that in addition to their antioxidant function, several of these redox species and systems are involved in regulation of biological processes, including cellular signaling, transcription factor activity, and apoptosis in normal and cancer cells. The survival and overall well-being of the cell is dependent upon the balance between the activity and the intracellular levels of these antioxidants as well as their interaction with various regulatory factors, including Ref-1, nuclear factor-kappaB, and activating protein-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants*
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Carotenoids
  • Diet
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Neoplasms*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Selenium
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antioxidants
  • Carotenoids
  • Glutathione
  • Selenium
  • Ascorbic Acid