Cellular thiols and reactive oxygen species in drug-induced apoptosis.J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2001 Jan; 296(1):1-6.JP
In higher eukaryotes, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated during respiration in mitochondria in the course of reduction of molecular oxygen as well as by distinct enzyme systems. ROS have been implicated in the regulation of diverse cellular functions including defense against pathogens, intracellular signaling, transcriptional activation, proliferation, and apoptosis. The reduction-oxidation (redox) state of the cell is primarily a consequence of the precise balance between the levels of ROS and endogenous thiol buffers present in the cell, such as glutathione and thioredoxin, which protect cells from oxidative damage. Dramatic elevation of ROS, exceeding compensatory changes in the level of the endogenous thiol buffers, may result in the sustained activation of signaling pathways and expression of genes that induce apoptosis in affected cells. Many cytotoxic drugs function selectively to kill cancer cells by the abrogation of proliferative signals, leading to cell death, and numerous reports have demonstrated that ROS are generated following treatment with these drugs. In this review, we will summarize recent contributions to our understanding of the importance of cytotoxic drug-induced modulation of cellular redox status for signaling and transcription leading to activation of apoptotic effector mechanisms.