|ROS have been proven beneficial to healing wounds.|
While the modern talk is all about how antioxidants are good and free radicals are bad, biology has never been so simple. Rather than being simply destructive to tissues and cells, free radicals generated by the cell's mitochondria, the energy producing structures in the cell, are actually beneficial to healing wounds.
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, such as peroxides and they are commonly referred to as free radicals. A new study, published in Developmental Cell finds they are necessary for the proper healing of skin wounds in the laboratory roundworm C. elegans. The researchers found that free radicals generated in the mitochondria not only are necessary for skin wound healing, but that increased levels of reactive oxygen species, or ROS, can actually make wounds heal faster.
Free radicals, or ROS, have long been known to damage DNA, RNA and proteins. Because such oxidative damage is thought to contribute to premature aging and cancer, many people take antioxidants to minimize the cellular damage from free radicals.
But the researchers found that while too much ROS in the cell may be bad for you, eliminating ROS altogether prevents wound healing, at least for roundworms. Their discovery has implications for the development of new pharmaceuticals to treat the elderly and people with diabetes who have chronic issues with wound healing.
While the researchers have confirmed their results only for the lowly roundworm, they suspect it applies to higher animals and are planning to continue further investigations in rodents.