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Updated: Feb 9 2018

Free Radical Injury

  • Overview
    • Free radicals are chemical compounds with unpaired electrons in the valence shell
      • a cascade is initiated whereby a free radical steals an electron from a cellular molecule
      • the intial free radical is quenched but has created another free radical
      • results in cell membrane peroxidation, DNA and protein damage
    • Causes of free radical generation
      • radiation exposure
      • metabolism of drugs (phase I)
        • e.g.) acetaminophen
      • redox reactions
        • naturally as part of oxidative ATP generation
      • nitric oxide
      • transition metals
        • e.g.) copper and iron
      • leukocyte oxidative burst
      • reperfusion after anoxia
        • a major cause of injury after thrombolytic therapy
      • carbon tetrachloride exposure
        • solvent used in dry cleaning industry
        • leads to hepatocyte damage and resultant fatty change
    • Degradation of free radicals occus by
      • enzymes
        • catalase
        • superoxide dismutase
        • glutathione peroxidase
      • spontaneous decay
      • antioxidants
        • vitamins A, C, E
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