Skip to content

Oxidative Stress

Refers to increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mostly produced by cellular mitochondria. In non-immune cells, this was previously considered to be a defect and a by-product of oxidative metabolism, but it has now been proven to be part of the cellular stress-response where ROS acts as signal- and effector-molecules. ROS has been shown to mediate the cellular response to hypoxia, starvation, inflammation and infection and also regulates cellular autophagy and the process of autophagic cell-death. In general, increased levels of ROS corresponds to increased levels of cellular stress, and occurs at the expense of ATP-synthesis.

Figure showing the trigger and effect of mitochondrial ROS-production in a non-immunologic cell-type.

ROS-generation also creates a toxic intracellular environment and a general functional decline, but this is generally considered to be a necessary compromise to preserve cellular homeostasis in stressful conditions. In infection, up-regulated levels of ROS serves anti-microbial functions, especially in leukocytes where it is a prerequisite for efficient elimination of phagocytosed pathogens

Supporting Evidence

  • ROS-generation as an anti-microbial function, that might also get exploited by pathogens.1)
  • Signalling functions of ROS.2)
  • Increased production of ROS in mitochondria occurs at a compromise with ATP-synthesis.3)

Association with Disease

  • Increased levels of ROS in muscle of patients with MPS.4)
  • Exposure of muscle-cells to ROS decreases force-generation capacity.5)
  • Evidence of redox-stress in joint-tissues from patients with OA and RA.6)
  • Increased ROS-production by cells of the intervertebral disc in DDD.10)
  • Blocking ROS-production forestalls DDD after experimental injury.11)
  • A reduced capacity for ROS-synthesis by immune-cells might be involved in RA.12)
  • Enhancement of leukocyte capacity for ROS-generation decreased arthritis in mouse-model.13)
  • Oxidative stress is a prominent feature in AS.14)


We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Privacy Policy