Superoxide Radical Release into the Cytoplasm of Heart Cells by an NADH-Driven Oxygen Activator

  • Hans Nohl
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 49)


It is now unequivocally accepted, mainly on the basis of indirect evidence1–4 that heart mitochondria (RHM) release small amounts of superoxide radicals as a physiological byproduct of respiration. The existence of this process indicates not only that the oxygen radical generator is able to establish an adequate redox couple with molecular oxygen but also its interaction with the physiological electron acceptor exhibits kinetic restraints, causing electron deviation from the normal pathway to oxygen at a nonphysiological site of the respiratory chain. In isolated, normally functioning mitochondria, the latter condition was found to be closely related to energy coupling since superoxide radical formation was only observed under conditions in which, due to a lack of ADP, mitochondria were hindered from ATP-synthesis (= state 4 conditions of respiration). Although such conditions are not likely to exist in highly active energy-consuming organs, there is convincing evidence that O 2 - formation occurs in the living heart2,3.


Heart Mitochondrion Oxygen Radical Generator Cytosolic NADH Superoxide Radical Formation External NADH 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Nohl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmacology and ToxicologyVeterinary University of ViennaViennaAustria

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