free radical


free radical

noun

Definition of FREE RADICAL

:  an especially reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons; especially :  one that is produced in the body by natural biological processes or introduced from an outside source (as tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants) and that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure

First Known Use of FREE RADICAL

1900

free radical

noun    (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of FREE RADICAL

: an especially reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons; especially : one that is produced in the body by natural biological processes or introduced from outside (as in tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants) and that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure

free radical

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Molecule containing at least one unpaired electron. Most molecules contain even numbers of electrons, and their covalent bonds normally consist of shared electron pairs. Cleavage of such bonds produces two separate free radicals, each with an unpaired electron (in addition to any paired electrons). They may be electrically charged or neutral and are highly reactive and usually short-lived. They combine with one another or with atoms that have unpaired electrons. In reactions with intact molecules, they abstract a part to complete their own electronic structure, generating new radicals that go on to react with other molecules. Such chain reactions are particularly important in decomposition of substances at high temperatures and in polymerization. In the human body, oxidized (see oxidation-reduction) free radicals can damage tissues. Antioxidant nutrients (e.g., vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium) may reduce these effects. Heat, ultraviolet radiation, and ionizing radiation (see radiation injury) all generate free radicals. They are magnetic, so their properties can be studied with such techniques as magnetic susceptibility and electron paramagnetic resonance measurements.

Variants of FREE RADICAL

free radical or radical

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