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Hydrogen peroxide: a metabolic by-product or a common mediator of ageing signals?


The reactive oxygen species that are generated by mitochondrial respiration, including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), are potent inducers of oxidative damage and mediators of ageing. It is not clear, however, whether oxidative stress is the result of a genetic programme or the by-product of physiological processes. Recent findings demonstrate that a fraction of mitochondrial H2O2, produced by a specialized enzyme as a signalling molecule in the pathway of apoptosis, induces intracellular oxidative stress and accelerates ageing. We propose that genes that control H2O2 production are selected determinants of lifespan.

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Figure 1: The central role of H2O2 inside the cell.
Figure 2: Shc generates pro-apoptotic H2O2 through alternative redox reactions.
Figure 3: A model for H2O2 as a determinant of lifespan.


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Giorgio, M., Trinei, M., Migliaccio, E. et al. Hydrogen peroxide: a metabolic by-product or a common mediator of ageing signals?. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 8, 722–728 (2007).

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