Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 144–149

Oxidative stress in chemical toxicity

  • H. Kappus
Review Radical Mechanisms and Lipid Peroxidation

DOI: 10.1007/BF00296968

Cite this article as:
Kappus, H. Arch Toxicol (1987) 60: 144. doi:10.1007/BF00296968


The toxic effects of compounds which undergo redox cycling via enzymatic one-electron reduction are reviewed. First of all, the enzymatic reduction of these compounds leads to reactive intermediates, mainly radicals which react with oxygen, whereby superoxide anion radicals are formed. Further oxygen metabolites are hydrogen peroxide, singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radicals. The role of these oxygen metabolites in toxicity is discussed.

The occurrence of lipid peroxidation during redox cycling of quinonoide compounds, e.g., adriamycin, and the possible relationship to their toxicity is critically evaluated. It is shown that iron ions play a crucial role in lipid peroxidation induced by redox cycling compounds.

DNA damage by metal chelates, e.g., bleomycin, is discussed on the basis of findings that enzymatic redox cycling of a bleomycin-iron complex has been observed. The involvement of hydroxyl radicals in bleomycin-induced DNA damage occurring during redox cycling in cell nuclei is claimed. Redox cycling of other substances, e.g., aromatic amines, is discussed in relation to carcinogenesis.

Other chemical groups, e.g., nitroaromatic compounds, hydroxylamines and azo compounds are included. Other targets for oxygen radical attack, e.g., proteins, are also dealt with.

It is concluded that oxygen radical formation by redox cycling may be a critical event in toxic effects of several compounds if the protective mechanisms of cells are overwhelmed.

Key words

Redox cycling Oxygen radicals Lipid peroxidation DNA damage Protein alteration 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Kappus
    • 1
  1. 1.Rudolf Virchow ClinicFree University of Berlin, FB 3, WE 15Berlin 65Federal Republic of Germany

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