Oxidative stress: an essential factor in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal mucosal diseases

Physiol Rev. 2014 Apr;94(2):329-54. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00040.2012.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated as by-products of normal cellular metabolic activities. Superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase are the enzymes involved in protecting cells from the damaging effects of ROS. ROS are produced in response to ultraviolet radiation, cigarette smoking, alcohol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ischemia-reperfusion injury, chronic infections, and inflammatory disorders. Disruption of normal cellular homeostasis by redox signaling may result in cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. ROS are produced within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but their roles in pathophysiology and disease pathogenesis have not been well studied. Despite the protective barrier provided by the mucosa, ingested materials and microbial pathogens can induce oxidative injury and GI inflammatory responses involving the epithelium and immune/inflammatory cells. The pathogenesis of various GI diseases including peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal cancers, and inflammatory bowel disease is in part due to oxidative stress. Unraveling the signaling events initiated at the cellular level by oxidative free radicals as well as the physiological responses to such stress is important to better understand disease pathogenesis and to develop new therapies to manage a variety of conditions for which current therapies are not always sufficient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Gastric Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species