Functional variability of antibodies upon oxidative processes

Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Jul;7(7):574-8. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2008.04.009. Epub 2008 May 1.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) released from activated phagocytes are involved in the innate immune defense against pathogens. However, when released in excess and when the antioxidant systems are impaired, ROS may induce cellular and tissue damage and dissociation of iron ions or iron containing compounds (heme) from protein-bound state. Free iron ions and free heme are prooxidative. Immunoglobulins usually perform their biological functions at sites of inflammation, where they may encounter reactive oxygen species and/or redox active compounds. It has been demonstrated that the exposure of some antibodies to heme, to transition metal ions or to reactive oxygen species induces an appearance of new binding specificities for various autoantigens. This review article is devoted to the interplay between redox active agents and antibodies. The biological significance of the appearance of new antigen binding specificities on antibodies after exposure to redox-active agents is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Specificity
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Heme / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • Metals / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Metals
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Heme