Studies on the biological effects of ozone: 7. Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after exposure of human blood to ozone

J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 1998 Jul-Sep;12(3):67-75.


The acceptance of any complementary medical approach is conditioned by the results obtained after the same scientific scrutiny applied in orthodox medicine. Otherwise any claim of efficacy remains in the realm of fiction. In the case of ozone therapy, the mechanisms of action have remained nebulous and in a series of publications we are trying to present the biochemical, immunological and morphological evidence in favour or against ozone therapy. We have now shown that ozone (O3) dissolved in the water of either plasma or serum or physiological saline generates reactive oxygen species (ROS), of which hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can be unequivocally demonstrated by using specific methods for its detection. Lipids present in plasma preferentially those present in lipoproteins, undergo peroxidation that is somewhat O3-dose dependent and can be observed by the measurement of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS). While the generation of H2O2 is crucial in activating both biochemical (hexose monophosphate shunt) and immunological (via the transcription factor NF-kB) mechanisms, the role of lipid oxidation products (LOP) remains to be investigated. We have shown here that there is a small but consistent induction of some cytokines (TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-2) when human blood is directly exposed to O3 concentrations up to 100 micrograms/ml per g of blood. On the other hand, isolated blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in tissue culture medium are far more sensitive to the oxidant action of O3 as shown by a progressive reduction of the proliferation index with comparatively far lower O3, concentrations. On the whole, these results support the concept that much of the O3 toxicity is neutralized by the powerful antioxidant system of blood. The minimal hemolysis supports this idea but as far as platelets are concerned, we must mention that they tend to aggregate in heparinized blood, even when it is exposed to an O3 concentration of 40 micrograms/ml. In spite of the lack of side-effects after autohemotherapy, this drawback must be kept in mind and avoided in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood / drug effects*
  • Blood / metabolism*
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / pathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / analysis
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 / blood
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Middle Aged
  • Ozone / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ozone
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Hydrogen Peroxide