Oxygen, the Breath of Life: Boon and Bane in Human Health, Disease, and Therapy


Olen R. Brown

DOI: 10.2174/97816810842511170101
eISBN: 978-1-68108-425-1, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68108-426-8

Indexed in: EBSCO.

Oxygen is historically entwined from its discovery with radical applications as a panacea by charlatans and by daring men constructing...[view complete introduction]
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Oxygen: Essential Role in Life

- Pp. 25-53 (29)

Olen R. Brown


Oxygen is especially suited to serve as the terminal acceptor of electrons in the biological process within mitochondria of electron transfer. This process is linked via coupled reactions to oxidative phosphorylation that creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal storage and transfer form of energy for all aerobic life on earth. However, the unique arrangement of oxygen’s electrons is conducive to one-electron transfer reactions that can produce oxygen free radicals and cause biological oxidant stress. Hans Krebs was the genius who uncovered the complex, biological cycle that we know as the Krebs cycle which revealed the long-hidden secrets of how the energy of consumed food is made available for cellular functions. Oxygen is the only element with the special combination of unique attributes required for cellular bioenergetics, the process of “cold” burning of food molecules to power the cell’s energy needs. A special example of oxygen’s role in “cold burning” is the firefly’s luminescence.

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