The role of metal ions in biological oxidation - the past and the present
Two theories, one based on the metabolism of inorganic substances, the other on metabolism of organic substances, have played an important role in the explanation of the origin of life. They demonstrate that the original environment of life on Earth was seawater containing micronutrients with structural, metabolic and catalytic activity. It is assumed that the first primitive organisms lived around 3.8 billion years ago and it was also then that the first catalytic reaction involving metal ions occurred. Biological oxidation leading to oxidative stress and cell damage in animals represents one of these types of reactions which are responsible for many animal diseases. The role of prooxidative and antioxidative actions of transition metal ions as well as their neuropathological consequences have therefore been the topic for many research projects. There is hope that metal chelates and antioxidants might prove to be a modern mode of therapy for i.e. neurogenerative diseases. The aim of this review is to show the evolution of scientific knowledge on metal ions, their biological oxidation, and an overview of their role in physiology and in pathological processes.
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