Free radical cell death switch identified

Jun 01, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've found a molecular pathway that might cause stroke, diabetes, heart and neurodegenerative disease and even the aging process.

Harvard Medical School researchers identified a pathway by which oxidative stress triggers cell death -- a finding that could pave the way for new drug targets and diagnostic strategies for age-related diseases.

"A common molecular denominator in aging and many age-related diseases is oxidative stress," said the study's lead author Dr. Azad Bonni, an associate professor of pathology.

Bonni says humans and other organisms depend on oxygen to produce energy for normal cell functions. A cell's engine, the mitochondria, converts oxygen into energy but that process also leaves a kind of exhaust product known as free radicals.

When free radicals are not destroyed by antioxidants, they create oxidative stress and, as a person ages, the body is unable to fight the process.

A lifetime of oxidative stress leads to general cellular deterioration associated with aging and degenerative diseases.

Bonni and his research team say they've defined how a molecular chain-of-events links oxidative-stress signals to cell death in brain neurons.

The findings are detailed in the June 2 issue of the journal Cell.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Targeted treatment could halt womb cancer growth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cellular RNA can template DNA repair in yeast

Sep 03, 2014

The ability to accurately repair DNA damaged by spontaneous errors, oxidation or mutagens is crucial to the survival of cells. This repair is normally accomplished by using an identical or homologous intact ...

Study reveals dynamics of microbes and nitrate

Aug 07, 2014

Human tampering with global carbon balances has received massive public attention because of its effects on global warming, but we pay less attention to another set of chemical processes we are similarly disrupting: human ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0