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As research on ROS advances, most radicals turn out to form inside the body itself. Since highly reactive species are unlikely to form in a reducing environment such as blood, a catalytic effect must be the cause.
Oxygen derived species have a degradative effect due to their high oxidation potential. Within a reducing environment like human blood (à antioxidants) such highly energetical molecules are expected to exist rather shortly. Yet, they tend to occur in measurable concentrations which indicates a helping hand working on their formation (Beresevicz 2000).
Iron is suspected to be the driving force by catalysing the formation of oxygen derived radicals. The mechanism of a direct reaction with oxygen would be:
Beresevicz (2000) finds three point that speak in this thesis‘ favour:
I. In biological systems, O2 concentration is usually much greater than that of H2O2.
II. The rate constants for Fe2+-O2 and Fe2+-H2O2 are similar.
III. An unbound catalytic metal may be mainly present in reduced form, thereby favoring ist direct
interaction with O2 rahter than H2O2.
Andrzej Beresewicz and Norbert K. Urbanski (2000) Generation of ∙OH initiated by interaction of Fe2+ and Cu+ with dioxygen; comparison with the Fenton chemistry. Acta Biochimica Polonica
Garry R. Buettner, Steven Yue Qian (1999) Iron and dioxygen chemistry is an important route to initiation of biological free radical oxidations: an electron paramagnetic resonance spin trapping study. Free Radiclas in Biology and Medicine 26, 1447 - 1456