Ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury occurs when blood supply to an organ is disrupted--ischemia--and then restored--reperfusion--leading to a burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from mitochondria. It has been tacitly assumed that ROS production during IR is a non-specific consequence of oxygen interacting with dysfunctional mitochondria upon reperfusion. Recently, this view has changed, suggesting that ROS production during IR occurs by a defined mechanism. Here we survey the metabolic factors underlying IR injury and propose a unifying mechanism for its causes that makes sense of the huge amount of disparate data in this area and provides testable hypotheses and new directions for therapies.
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