NAD(P)H oxidases (NOXs) are a family of enzymes catalyzing the univalent reduction of oxygen to produce the superoxide anion radical, which in turn can be converted in other reactive oxygen species (ROS) and may participate to the formation of reactive nitrogen derivatives, such as peroxynitrite. By virtue of their activity, NOXs may represent a double-edged sword for the organisms homeostasis. On one hand ROS participate in host defence by killing invading microbes and may regulate several important physiological functions, such as cell signalling, regulation of cell growth and differentiation, oxygen sensing, angiogenesis, fertilization and control of vascular tone. On the other hand ROS may play an important role in pathological processes such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, ischemia/reperfusion injury, neurodegenerative diseases. Many roles suggested for NOXs in various tissues and physiopathological situations have been inferred by the in vitro and in vivo effects of several NOX inhibitors. In particular, most studies are based on the use of two compounds, diphenyleneiodonium and apocynin. Aim of this review is to describe the main features of these two compounds, to show that they cannot be used as specific NOX inhibitors and to solicit researchers to find other tools for investigating the role of NOXs.
NAD(P)H oxidases, reactive oxygen species, diphenyleneiodonium, apocynin
Dipartimento di Genetica, Biologia e Biochimica (Sezione di Biochimica), Via Santena, 5/bis, 10126 Torino, Italy.