Compared to normal cells, usually cancer cells are under higher oxidative stress. Elevating
intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by introducing excessive ROS or inhibiting antioxidant
system may enhance selectively of cancer cell killing by ROS-modulating agents through
stress sensitization or stress overload. Meanwhile due to the adaptive response, normal cells may be
capable of maintaining redox homeostasis under exogenous ROS. Here we review ROS-modulating
agents in different mechanisms and classify them into groups by various targets for illustrating more
clearly. At last, we discuss their side effects and the potential troubles of developing these agents and
argue that might be an effective strategy for further exploring to modulate the unique redox regulatory
mechanisms of cancer cells.
Keywords: ROS-modulating agents, redox homeostasis, antioxidant system, exogenous generating ROS agents, mitochondrial
respiratory chain, antitumor therapy.
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