Theranostics 2021; 11(10):4839-4857. doi:10.7150/thno.56747 This issue


The double-edged roles of ROS in cancer prevention and therapy

Yawei Wang1,2, Huan Qi2, Yu Liu1,2, Chao Duan1,2, Xiaolong Liu2, Tian Xia2, Di Chen2, Hai-long Piao2,3✉, Hong-Xu Liu1✉

1. Department of Thoracic Surgery, Cancer Hospital of China Medical University, Liaoning Cancer Hospital & Institute, Shenyang 110042, China.
2. CAS Key Laboratory of Separation Science for Analytical Chemistry, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dalian 116023, China.
3. Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Life Sciences, China Medical University, Shenyang, 110122, China.

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Wang Y, Qi H, Liu Y, Duan C, Liu X, Xia T, Chen D, Piao Hl, Liu HX. The double-edged roles of ROS in cancer prevention and therapy. Theranostics 2021; 11(10):4839-4857. doi:10.7150/thno.56747. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) serve as cell signaling molecules generated in oxidative metabolism and are associated with a number of human diseases. The reprogramming of redox metabolism induces abnormal accumulation of ROS in cancer cells. It has been widely accepted that ROS play opposite roles in tumor growth, metastasis and apoptosis according to their different distributions, concentrations and durations in specific subcellular structures. These double-edged roles in cancer progression include the ROS-dependent malignant transformation and the oxidative stress-induced cell death. In this review, we summarize the notable literatures on ROS generation and scavenging, and discuss the related signal transduction networks and corresponding anticancer therapies. There is no doubt that an improved understanding of the sophisticated mechanism of redox biology is imperative to conquer cancer.