It is often assumed that mitochondria are the main source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in mammalian cells, but there is no convincing experimental evidence for this in the literature. What evidence there is suggests mitochondria are a significant source for ROS, which may have physiological and pathological effects. But quantitatively, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisomes have a greater capacity to produce ROS than mitochondria, at least in liver. In most cells and physiological or pathological conditions there is a lack of evidence for or against mitochondria being the main source of cellular ROS. Mitochondria can rapidly degrade ROS and thus are potential sinks for ROS, but whether mitochondria act as net sources or sinks within cells in particular conditions is unknown.
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