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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)


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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