Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 11, pp 1817–1829 | Cite as

Oxidative damage to RNA: mechanisms, consequences, and diseases

  • Qiongman Kong
  • Chien-liang Glenn Lin


Overproduction of free radicals can damage cellular components resulting in progressive physiological dysfunction, which has been implicated in many human diseases. Oxidative damage to RNA received little attention until the past decade. Recent studies indicate that RNA, such as messenger RNA and ribosomal RNA, is very vulnerable to oxidative damage. RNA oxidation is not a consequence of dying cells but an early event involved in pathogenesis. Oxidative modification to RNA results in disturbance of the translational process and impairment of protein synthesis, which can cause cell deterioration or even cell death. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms of oxidative damage to RNA and the possible biological consequences of damaged RNA. Furthermore, we review recent evidence suggesting that oxidative damage to RNA may contribute to progression of many human diseases.


RNA oxidation Oxidative damage Oxidative stress Free radical Neurodegeneration Alzheimer’s disease ALS 



This work was supported by the NIH (grant AG027797), the ALS Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Neuroscience Education and Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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