Role of free-radical reactions in liver diseases

J. Feher, A. Vereckei, G. Lengyel

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Role of free-radical reactions is most significant in toxic liver injuries. Two traditional groups of liver injuries induced by drugs and chemicals are distinguished, 1. direct toxic type and 2. idiosyncratic type. Liver injury of direct toxic type is generally developed following toxin exposure, it is dose dependent, incubation period is short, and the injury often affects other organs (e.g. kidney). Direct toxins frequently cause typical zonal necrosis usually without concomitant signs of hypersensitivity. It is typical of idiosyncratic reaction that it appears only in a shorter period of exposure, it cannot be predicted, it is not dose-dependent, its incubation period varies and sometimes (in one-fourth of cases) it is accompanied by extrahepatic symptoms of hypersensitivity (fever, leukocytosis, eosinophilia, rashes), its morphologic picture shows great variety. A part of direct toxins is toxic itself, in the other part the basic compound is not toxic but it changes into toxic metabolites in the liver. Liver is well-protected against free-radicals developing in the organism; it is one of our best antioxidant supplied organs. It is probably due to the one of the important tasks of liver, namely detoxication of drugs, chemicals and toxic materials, with subsequent release of free-radicals. It is proved by the fact that in normal bile peroxidized lipids produced by free-radical chain reactions can also be detected. The pathologic free-radical reactions and one of their sequelae, peroxidation of lipids (LPO) do not necessarily cause cell and tissue damage. Antioxidant protection of cells and tissues is able to prevent free-radical injury and it enables, that the already developed damages become reversible. According to recent investigations, the lipid peroxidation, caused by free-radical reactions, or covalent binding of radical products to biomolecules does not lead directly to cellular destruction, only via further reactions. Such intermediary steps can be the phospholipase A2 activation, accumulation of lysophosphatides, poly-ADP- ribose polymerase repair enzyme activation, following oxidative damage of DNA, with subsequent NAD and ATP depletion. Its significance may be that the irreversible cellular and tissue damage can be prevented perhaps not only by administration of antioxidants, but also by compounds (e.g. phospholipase A2 inhibitors) affecting the above-mentioned biochemical mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
JournalActa physiologica Hungarica
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)

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