Endocellular regulation by free radicals and hydrogen peroxide: key determinants of the inflammatory response

Inflammopharmacology. 2014 Apr;22(2):69-72. doi: 10.1007/s10787-014-0199-7. Epub 2014 Feb 22.


The formations of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) have long been considered as major contributors to the dysregulation of the inflammatory response. Reactive oxygen species and RNS productions often are reported to be associated with the development of chronic diseases and acceleration of the aging process. Mechanistically, this association has linked the phenomena of oxidative stress with the occurrence of random deleterious modifications of macromolecules with progressive development of pro-inflammatory conditions promoting age-associated systemic diseases. On the contrary the so-called random modification of macromolecules is incorrect rather ROS and RNS are molecular regulators (second messengers) and not universal toxins whose overproduction should be annulled by antioxidants. We have previously reviewed the physiological role of superoxide anion (and hydrogen peroxide) and nitric oxide (and peroxynitrite) and concluded that these reactive molecular species behave as pro-oxidant second messengers. Reactive oxygen species and RNS are produced at specific cellular locations and are essential for both the normal physiological function of the metabolome and the regulated inflammatory response. This brings into question the whole concept of the orally administering of antioxidant molecular species to down-regulate or abrogate an overproduction of free radical activity. There are no human clinical trials that demonstrate that small molecules, the so-called antioxidants (e.g., vitamins C, vitamin E and beta-carotene), confer a favorable clinical outcome of long-lasting control of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Free Radicals / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Hydrogen Peroxide