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H2O2 Sensors of Lungs and Blood Vessels and Their Role in the Antioxidant Defense of the Body

V. P. Skulachev

Department of Bioenergetics, Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119899 Russia; fax: (095) 939-0338; E-mail: skulach@genebee.msu.su

Received April 2, 2001; Revision received August 2, 2001
This paper considers the composition and function of sensory systems monitoring H2O2 level by the lung neuroepithelial cells and carotid bodies. These systems are localized in the plasma membrane of the corresponding cells and are composed of O2*--generating NADPH-oxidase and an H2O2-activated K+ channel. This complex structure of the H2O2 sensors is probably due to their function in antioxidant defense. By means of these sensors, an increase in the H2O2 level in lung or blood results in a decrease in lung ventilation and constriction of blood vessels. This action lowers the O2 flux to the tissues and, hence, intracellular [O2]. The [O2] decrease, in turn, inhibits intracellular generation of reactive oxygen species. The possible roles of such systems under normal conditions (e.g., the effect of O2*- in air) and in some pathologies (e.g., pneumonia) is discussed.
KEY WORDS: reactive oxygen species, H2O2 sensor, neuroepithelial cells, lung, carotid bodies