Superoxide in Biology and Medicine: An Overview

  • Robert Z. Hopkins AIMSCI Research Institute, P.O. Box 37504, Raleigh, NC 27626, USA
Keywords: Cytochrome P450 system, Fenton reaction, Haber-Weiss reaction, Mitochondria, NADPH oxidase, Reactive oxygen species, Redox cycling, Redox signaling, Superoxide, Superoxide dismutase, Uncoupled endothelial nitric oxide synthase, Xanthine oxidoreductase


Since 1933 when Linus Pauling, a twice-honored Nobel laureate, proposed its existence based on the theory of quantum mechanics, superoxide has gradually taken central stage in the research field of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in biology and medicine. Indeed, superoxide is considered the primary ROS that gives rise to secondary ROS. This oxygen free radical is generated in a wide variety of biological systems ranging from aerobic microorganisms to human cells, and also formed in the deep ocean and the soils of Earth and possibly the soils of Mars as well. Superoxide is now recognized as an important molecule that is formed via defined mechanisms and involved in diverse physiological and pathophysiological processes. This article provides an overview on the basic chemistry and biochemistry of this ubiquitous oxygen free radical and its significance in biology and medicine.

How to Cite
Hopkins, R. Z. (2016). Superoxide in Biology and Medicine: An Overview. Reactive Oxygen Species, 1(2), 99‒109. Retrieved from
Review Articles