Mitochondrial damage induced by conditions of oxidative stress

Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Feb;26(3-4):463-71. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(98)00216-0.


Up to 2% of the oxygen consumed by the mitochondrial respiratory chain undergoes one electron reduction, typically by the semiquinone form of coenzyme Q, to generate the superoxide radical, and subsequently other reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide and the hydroxyl radical. Under conditions in which mitochondrial generation of reactive oxygen species is increased (such as in the presence of Ca2+ ions or when the mitochondrial antioxidant defense mechanisms are compromised), these reactive oxygen species may lead to irreversible damage of mitochondrial DNA, membrane lipids and proteins, resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction and ultimately cell death. The nature of this damage and the cellular conditions in which it occurs are discussed in this review article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Electron Transport*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Permeability
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species