What are Redox Signaling Molecules?
Reactive Oxygen Species and Reduced Species
Our cells are literally filled with and surrounded by salt water, which becomes the principal raw material for building simple redox signaling molecules. Simple Redox Signaling molecules are simple molecules formed from rearrangements of the atoms in water (H20) salt (NaCl) and nitrogen (N2), the most abundant molecules of life. A few examples of simple redox signaling molecules are hydrogensuperoxide (HO2), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and Nitric Oxide (NO), there are many more. Redox Signaling molecules can fall into two classifications, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reduced Species (RS). When isolated, most of the individual Redox Signaling molecules are potently toxic, reactive and unstable. However, in all forms of life on planet earth, cells have learned to manufacture stable, non-toxic mixtures of ROS and RS that serve fundamental roles inside and outside the cells.
Perfectly pH balanced (7.35) mixture
In our blood, cells and tissues, perfectly balanced, stable safe mixtures of Redox Signaling molecules exist. It turns out that such mixtures have close to neutral pH (7.35) which is the average pH of blood and fluids carefully maintained in our bodies. It should be noted that such stable balanced mixtures of Redox Signaling molecules CANNOT be formed by simply stirring together individual components (which would be toxic and imbalanced), non-toxic Redox Signaling complexes are formed electrochemically and enzymatically by complex reactions inside the cells and tissues. The perfectly balanced complex mixtures of ROS and RS of Redox Signaling mixtures in the body, naturally having close to neutral pH and neutral Redox potential (RP), can balance chemical equilibrium as required depending on the chemical environment they are in. This is the beauty of Redox Signaling messengers, they are everywhere and participate in all of the processes of life.
Species containing chlorine
Some of the Redox Signaling complexes in our body contain chlorine. This is not the same form as the unbalanced crude forms of molecular chlorine and bleach (Cl2, NaOCl) that are used to sanitize pools and water supplies. Such unbalanced forms of chlorine are notably irritating and toxic, though still tolerated. In fact, certain unbalanced mixtures are the primary weapon of choice for the immune system and are potently effective against microbes. Perfectly balanced Redox Signaling mixtures, in contrast, have zero toxicity are not irritating, even soothing, and are safe for all tissues in the body, including the eyes. These balanced mixtures of Redox Signaling molecules already exist in large concentrations in all tissues and fluids in the body and are able to be easily handled by all tissues. The secret is balance.
Produced by Mitochondria
The primary source of Redox Signaling molecules in living cells is the mitochondria. The mitochondria live inside the cells and produce 95% of all of the energy (ATP fuel) used in the body. There are anywhere from 10 to 5000 mitochondria in every cell. Collectively these organelles comprise more than half of the dry weight of the body. As mitochondria metabolize simple sugars from the foods we eat into the ATP cell fuel, they also produce copious amounts of ROS and RS that are quickly mixed, stabilized and balanced by enzymatic action inside the cells to form balanced Redox Signaling complexes and mixtures. These balanced Redox Signaling mixtures float around the cell and are easily neutralized by the antioxidant barriers that are placed in strategic areas in the cell to protect sensitive structures from potential damage, such as the DNA. As long as these Redox Signaling mixtures are kept balanced, the antioxidant barriers are easily able to neutralize them, by turning them back into salt water and nascent oxygen. Such Redox Signaling molecules serve as signaling messengers and carriers in all cells and tissues of the body.