Role of free radical in atherosclerosis, diabetes and dyslipidaemia: larger-than-life

Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2015 Feb;31(2):113-26. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2558.


During the past few decades, there have been numerous studies related to free radical chemistry. Free radicals including reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species are generated by the human body by various endogenous systems, exposure to different physiochemical conditions, or pathological states, and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases. These free radicals are also the common by-products of many oxidative biochemical reactions in cells. When free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. They adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA, which trigger a number of human diseases. In a number of pathophysiological conditions, the delicate equilibrium between free radical production and antioxidant capability is distorted, leading to oxidative stress and increased tissue injury. ROS which are mainly produced by vascular cells are implicated as possible underlying pathogenic mechanisms in a progression of cardiovascular diseases including ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and diabetes. This review summarizes the key roles played by free radicals in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and dyslipidaemia. Although not comprehensive, this review also provides a brief perspective on some of the current research being conducted in this area for a better understanding of the role free radicals play in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and dyslipidaemia.

Keywords: ROS; atherosclerosis; diabetes; dyslipidaemia; free radicals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Dyslipidemias / etiology
  • Dyslipidemias / immunology
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism*
  • Dyslipidemias / prevention & control
  • Foam Cells / immunology
  • Foam Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide