Fridovich, Irwin Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
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A toxic effect in a living organism caused by a species of oxygen. Oxygen has two aspects, one benign and the other malignant. Those organisms that avail themselves of the enormous metabolic advantages provided by dioxygen (O2) must defend themselves against its toxicity. The complete reduction of one molecule of O2 to two of water (H2O) requires four electrons; therefore, intermediates must be encountered during the reduction of O2 by the univalent pathway. The intermediates of O2 reduction, in the order of their production, are the superoxide radical (O2−), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and the hydroxyl radical (HO·). See also: Oxygen; Superoxide chemistry
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