Ionizing radiation-induced responses: where free radical chemistry meets redox biology and medicine

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2014 Mar 20;20(9):1407-9. doi: 10.1089/ars.2013.5769. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


The biological effects of ionizing radiation (IR) from environmental, medical, and man-made sources, as well as from space exploration are of broad health concern. During the last 40 years it has become evident that, in addition to short-lived free radical-mediated events initiated within microseconds of exposure and generally thought to dissipate within milliseconds, IR-induced production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species as well as changes in redox signaling linked to disruption of metabolic processes persist long after radiation exposure. Furthermore, persistent IR-induced increases in the metabolic production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species appear to significantly contribute to the delayed effects of IR exposure, including induction of adaptive responses at low doses as well as carcinogenesis, fibrosis, inflammation, genomic instability, and acceleration of the onset of degenerative tissue injury processes associated with aging. The ability to identify the specific metabolic mechanisms and dose-response relationships that contribute to adaptive responses as well as persistent IR-induced injury processes holds great promise for identifying novel strategies to mitigate the deleterious effects of IR exposure as well as for gathering mechanistic information critical for risk assessment. This Forum contains original and review articles authored by experts in the field of radiobiology focusing on novel mechanisms involving redox biology and metabolism that significantly contribute to the persistent biological effects seen following IR exposure.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Introductory Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Free Radicals / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction / radiation effects*
  • Radiation, Ionizing*


  • Free Radicals