The role of intracellular oxidants in apoptosis

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995 May 24;1271(1):59-62. doi: 10.1016/0925-4439(95)00010-2.


Apoptotic cell death is a complex process whose biochemistry is poorly understood. Direct exposure of various cell types of oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide or lipid hydroperoxides can directly induce apoptosis, while in many experimental models pretreatment of cells with antioxidants has been shown to protect against this form of cell death. Recent experimental evidence suggests that multiple forms of thymocyte apoptosis can be inhibited by free radical spin traps, spin probes and thiol reductants, and that this inhibition correlates with a lower oxidative burden within the treated cells. Possible sites of production of these oxidants include mitochondrial electron transport and phospholipase A2-activated arachidonic acid metabolism, while intracellular targets may include redox sensitive transcription factors and inhibitory proteins that must be tagged for proteolysis before apoptosis can commence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Oxidants / pharmacology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Spin Labels
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Free Radicals
  • Oxidants
  • Spin Labels