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Free Radicals, Types, Sources and Damaging Reactions

Submitted by Dr. Tamer Fouad, M.D.

Types of Free Radicals in the body (continued)

Superoxide:

The superoxide free radical anion is formed when oxygen is reduced by the transfer of a single electron to its outer shells (Cheeseman and Slater, 1993). The major source of superoxide in-vivo is the electron leakage that results from the electron transfer chain of the mitochondria.

On its own it isn't particularly damaging. However, the superoxide radical anion appears to play a central role as other reactive intermediates are formed from it. Its main significance lies in its being a main source for the generation of hydrogen peroxide and as a reductant of transition metals, which are precursors to the formation of the lethal hydroxyl radical.

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