In the biological system, reactive oxygen species are formed during various chemical reactions which include oxygen as one of the reactants. Simply, it is the byproduct of oxygen produced in the living cell in different conditions. Molecular oxygen is the precursor of these oxygen radicals. Reactive oxygen species have unpaired electrons in their outermost shell. Reactive oxygen species are produced only in aerobic organisms. Examples of reactive oxygen species include peroxide and superoxide. In the living organism, oxygen radicals are produced from different sources. It is said to be endogenous when if produced within the living cell due to the enzymatic reactions. When any external sources cause the production of oxygen free radicals, it is said to be endogenous. There are many harmful effects of excessive oxygen radicals like damage to macromolecules, causes mutations in DNA, and may also act as a carcinogen.
Sources of production of Reactive oxygen species
Endogenous source: The word â€œEndoâ€ means within or inside. When reactive oxygen species are produced in any biochemical reactions occurring in the cell or within organelles like mitochondria and peroxisomes then they are said to be produced from an endogenous source.
For example- in mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) ATP is produced through an oxidation-reduction reaction in the electron transport chain. In this reaction, oxygen is the final acceptor of the electrons that get reduced in water. However, a few of the electrons may not reach the oxygen, in such case oxygen incompletely reduced to superoxide. Too much of reactive oxygen species cause damage to mitochondria. Reactive oxygen species are also produced by immune cells like neutrophils and macrophages to increase phagocytic activities.
Exogenous source: The word â€œExoâ€ means outside. When reactive oxygen species are produced by stimulation from outside sources like pollutants, radiation, heavy metals smoking, high temperature.
For example, ionizing radiation causes the generation of oxygen radicals that also results in mutation in DNA and also damages it.
Harmful effects of Reactive oxygen species
In the biological system, under normal condition, reactive oxygen species are constantly produced and gets eliminated. With few benefits, there are many damaging effects of reactive oxygen species in the cell. When cells are under oxidative stress, excessive reactive oxygen species are produced in the cell. Cells are said to be oxidative stress when there is an imbalance between thereactive oxygen speciesand antioxidants. Damaging effects of these reactive oxygen species are as follows:
It can act as a carcinogen.
It causes mutations in DNA and aging.
It damages the DNA and cellular proteins and lipids.
The high oxidative stress causes infertility in males.
To counteract the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species, the biological system has evolved with many antioxidant enzymes and molecules. The harmful effects are neutralized by antioxidants. Cells undergo oxidative stress when there is an imbalance between the reactive oxygen species and antioxidants.Antioxidant donates an electron to the oxygen radicals to neutralize its effect. To cope with high oxidative stress, gonadal tissues contains a larger concentration of antioxidants.
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