Reactive oxygen species determine cell fate

Ina Berniakovich, Mirella Trinei, Elena Beltrami, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Marco Giorgio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Intracellular redox balance, i.e. the ratio between oxidizing and reducing species within the cell, plays a significant role in the regulation of cellular processes. Redox balance results from the activities of enzymatic systems that produce or neutralize oxidizing species. Aerobic metabolism significantly affects intracellular redox balance through the formation of reactive oxygen species, ROS. ROS, including superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical, are potent oxidizing agents that largely alter redox balance and target a variety of cellular components. Mitochondrial respiration as well as cytosolic and membrane oxidases contribute largely to the regulation of intracellular redox balance. In the past, intracellular accumulation of ROS was thought to lead exclusively to an unspecific damage to cellular components. Nowadays, the physiological relevance of redox balance regulation by ROS has been reevaluated. In fact, emerging data suggest that ROS function as signaling molecules that regulate cellular processes such as angiogenesis, fat development, stem cell renewal and apoptosis. Furthermore, ROS were shown to regulate stem cell pools maintenance and proliferation and to adjust their differentiation program. Here we review the current knowledge about ROS control of cellular growth and differentiation, discuss the critical and context specific role of ROS in regulating cell processes and finally hypothesize that integration of the different tissue specific regulatory circuits with the alteration of redox balance induced by ROS accumulation determines cell fate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Cell Growth Process Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781604563252
Publication statusPublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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