Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Reactive Oxygen Species

  • Julio F. TurrensEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_49-1



The expression “Reactive Oxygen Species” (ROS) is used to describe a variety of chemical species derived from molecular oxygen (O2). Some ROS involve O2 (in the ground state or electronically excited) as well as molecules containing partially reduced oxygen. Although the term ROS is usually used as a synonym of “oxidants,” some of them act often as “reductants” instead. Thus, the reactivity and chemical structure of different ROS varies substantially. In this short review, we describe the chemical structure of the most common ROS and their toxicity to biological systems as well as some recently identified important roles in cell regulation.


Aerobic organisms utilize O 2 as a terminal acceptor in the electron transport chain for electrons produced during the oxidation of nutrients required for energy production. During this process, O 2will accept a total of four electrons, becoming fully reduced and producing two molecules of water...
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© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical SciencesPat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions, University of South AlabamaMobileUSA