The role of mitochondria in reactive oxygen species metabolism and signaling

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1147:37-52. doi: 10.1196/annals.1427.015.


Oxidative stress is considered a major contributor to the etiology of both "normal" senescence and severe pathologies with serious public health implications. Several cellular sources, including mitochondria, are known to produce significant amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that may contribute to intracellular oxidative stress. Mitochondria possess at least 10 known sites that are capable of generating ROS, but they also feature a sophisticated multilayered ROS defense system that is much less studied. This review summarizes the current knowledge about major components involved in mitochondrial ROS metabolism and factors that regulate ROS generation and removal at the level of mitochondria. An integrative systemic approach is applied to analysis of mitochondrial ROS metabolism, which is "dissected" into ROS generation, ROS emission, and ROS scavenging. The in vitro ROS-producing capacity of several mitochondrial sites is compared in the metabolic context and the role of mitochondria in ROS-dependent intracellular signaling is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species