Oxidative stress: the mitochondria-dependent and mitochondria-independent pathways of apoptosis

Arch Toxicol. 2013 Jul;87(7):1157-80. doi: 10.1007/s00204-013-1034-4. Epub 2013 Mar 30.


Oxidative stress basically defines a condition in which prooxidant-antioxidant balance in the cell is disturbed; cellular biomolecules undergo severe oxidative damage, ultimately compromising cells viability. In recent years, a number of studies have shown that oxidative stress could cause cellular apoptosis via both the mitochondria-dependent and mitochondria-independent pathways. Since these pathways are directly related to the survival or death of various cell types in normal as well as pathophysiological situations, a clear picture of these pathways for various active molecules in their biological functions would help designing novel therapeutic strategy. This review highlights the basic mechanisms of ROS production and their sites of formation; detail mechanism of both mitochondria-dependent and mitochondria-independent pathways of apoptosis as well as their regulation by ROS. Emphasis has been given on the redox-sensitive ASK1 signalosome and its downstream JNK pathway. This review also describes the involvement of oxidative stress under various environmental toxin- and drug-induced organ pathophysiology and diabetes-mediated apoptosis. We believe that this review would provide useful information about the most recent progress in understanding the mechanism of oxidative stress-mediated regulation of apoptotic pathways. It will also help to figure out the complex cross-talks between these pathways and their modulations by oxidative stress. The literature will also shed a light on the blind alleys of this field to be explored. Finally, readers would know about the ROS-regulated and apoptosis-mediated organ pathophysiology which might help to find their probable remedies in future.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology*
  • Oxidative Stress* / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5