Interactions between mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and cellular glucose metabolism

Arch Toxicol. 2015 Aug;89(8):1209-26. doi: 10.1007/s00204-015-1520-y. Epub 2015 Jun 6.


Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and detoxification are tightly balanced. Shifting this balance enables ROS to activate intracellular signaling and/or induce cellular damage and cell death. Increased mitochondrial ROS production is observed in a number of pathological conditions characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction. One important hallmark of these diseases is enhanced glycolytic activity and low or impaired oxidative phosphorylation. This suggests that ROS is involved in glycolysis (dys)regulation and vice versa. Here we focus on the bidirectional link between ROS and the regulation of glucose metabolism. To this end, we provide a basic introduction into mitochondrial energy metabolism, ROS generation and redox homeostasis. Next, we discuss the interactions between cellular glucose metabolism and ROS. ROS-stimulated cellular glucose uptake can stimulate both ROS production and scavenging. When glucose-stimulated ROS production, leading to further glucose uptake, is not adequately counterbalanced by (glucose-stimulated) ROS scavenging systems, a toxic cycle is triggered, ultimately leading to cell death. Here we inventoried the various cellular regulatory mechanisms and negative feedback loops that prevent this cycle from occurring. It is concluded that more insight in these processes is required to understand why they are (un)able to prevent excessive ROS production during various pathological conditions in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glucose