Intracellular redox status and oxidative stress: implications for cell proliferation, apoptosis, and carcinogenesis

Arch Toxicol. 2008 May;82(5):273-99. doi: 10.1007/s00204-008-0304-z. Epub 2008 Apr 29.


Oxidative stress can be defined as the imbalance between cellular oxidant species production and antioxidant capability. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in a variety of different cellular processes ranging from apoptosis and necrosis to cell proliferation and carcinogenesis. In fact, molecular events, such as induction of cell proliferation, decreased apoptosis, and oxidative DNA damage have been proposed to be critically involved in carcinogenesis. Carcinogenicity and aging are characterized by a set of complex endpoints, which appear as a series of molecular reactions. ROS can modify many intracellular signaling pathways including protein phosphatases, protein kinases, and transcription factors, suggesting that the majority of the effects of ROS are through their actions on signaling pathways rather than via non-specific damage of macromolecules; however, exact mechanisms by which redox status induces cells to proliferate or to die, and how oxidative stress can lead to processes evoking tumor formation are still under investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*


  • Antioxidants