Oxidative stress as a mediator of cardiovascular disease

Oxid Med Cell Longev. Nov-Dec 2009;2(5):259-69. doi: 10.4161/oxim.2.5.9441.


During physiological processes molecules undergo chemical changes involving reducing and oxidizing reactions. A molecule with an unpaired electron can combine with a molecule capable of donating an electron. The donation of an electron is termed as oxidation whereas the gaining of an electron is called reduction. Reduction and oxidation can render the reduced molecule unstable and make it free to react with other molecules to cause damage to cellular and sub-cellular components such as membranes, proteins and DNA. In this paper, we have discussed the formation of reactive oxidant species originating from a variety of sources such as nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS), xanthine oxidases (XO), the cyclooxygenases, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAD(P)H) oxidase isoforms and metal-catalysed reactions. In addition, we present a treatise on the physiological defences such as specialized enzymes and antioxidants that maintain reduction-oxidation (redox) balance. We have also given an account of how enzymes and antioxidants can be exhausted by the excessive production of reactive oxidant species (ROS) resulting in oxidative stress/nitrosative stress, a process that is an important mediator of cell damage. Important aspects of redox imbalance that triggers the activity of a number of signalling pathways including transcription factors activity, a process that is ubiquitous in cardiovascular disease related to ischemia/reperfusion injury have also been presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • NADP / chemistry
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADP
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Superoxide Dismutase