The review deals with the effects of reactive oxygen species, both radical and nonradical (e.g. hydrogen peroxide), on cells and organisms. The chemical and biochemical aspects include description of individual reactive oxygen species, chemical reactions giving rise to them, their interconversions and interactions with metals (Fe2+, Cu2+, Cu+) and other substances (scavengers, antioxidants). The biological aspects concern the specific features and locations of cellular enzyme systems involved in radical production and/or removal. Major harmful effects of the species on the molecular (protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, damage to DNA) and cellular level (effect on signal transduction, on cell membrane functions and on gene expression) are surveyed. Methods whereby cells and organisms cope with the onslaught of these reactive species are reviewed as well as implications for plant, animal and human health.
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