The role of oxidative stress during inflammatory processes

Biol Chem. 2014 Feb;395(2):203-30. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2013-0241.


Abstract The production of various reactive oxidant species in excess of endogenous antioxidant defense mechanisms promotes the development of a state of oxidative stress, with significant biological consequences. In recent years, evidence has emerged that oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the development and perpetuation of inflammation, and thus contributes to the pathophysiology of a number of debilitating illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, or neurodegenerative processes. Oxidants affect all stages of the inflammatory response, including the release by damaged tissues of molecules acting as endogenous danger signals, their sensing by innate immune receptors from the Toll-like (TLRs) and the NOD-like (NLRs) families, and the activation of signaling pathways initiating the adaptive cellular response to such signals. In this article, after summarizing the basic aspects of redox biology and inflammation, we review in detail the current knowledge on the fundamental connections between oxidative stress and inflammatory processes, with a special emphasis on the danger molecule high-mobility group box-1, the TLRs, the NLRP-3 receptor, and the inflammasome, as well as the transcription factor nuclear factor-κB.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Free Radicals / immunology
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammasomes / immunology
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / immunology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / immunology
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Free Radicals
  • Inflammasomes
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species