Free-Radical

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A free radical can be defined as any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in an atomic orbital. The presence of an unpaired electron results in certain common properties that are shared by most radicals. Many radicals are unstable and highly reactive and can either donate an electron to or accept an electron from other molecules, therefore behaving as oxidants or reductants. The most important oxygen-containing free radicals in many disease states are hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide, oxygen singlet, hypochlorite, nitric oxide radical, and peroxynitrite radical. These are highly reactive species, capable in the nucleus, and in the membranes of cells of damaging biologically relevant molecules such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. Free radicals attack important macromolecules leading to cell damage and homeostatic disruption–the result is aging and disease. Targets of free radicals include all kinds of molecules in the body. Among them, lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins are the major targets.

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