Free Radicals in Cell Nuclei?

Jason L. Eriksen jerikse at
Mon Jul 10 15:56:37 EST 1995

kgpl at wrote:
: Someone has suggested to me that a lot of age-related damage may
: be the result of accidental miscopying of DNA due to the presence
: of free-radicals in cell nuclei messing up the copying process.
: Is this possible?  What kinds of free-radicals are generated within,
: or can get into, the nucleus of a cell?  Is there any reason to
: suspect that this sort of damage is more likely to occur during
: the process of cell division?

Oxygen-derived radicals, such as radicals and peroxides, seem to be byproducts
of a lot of cellular processes.  Cellular respiration, especially, seems to
generate huge amounts of free radicals in cells, most of which are mopped up
by superoxide dismutase and related free radical compensatory pathways.

Free radicals may cause cross-linkages of cell proteins to occur, leading to 
lots of junk to accumulate in the cell.  There is also a possibility that some
sort of DNA damage can occur via normal respiratory processes, although given
the efficiency of repair, permanent damage appears to be an infrequent  
occurance (thank goodness!).

Jason Eriksen

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