Early in 1997 Carol Anderson, our newsletter production specialist, mentioned a suggestion received by Dr. Steenblock, our president. He had voiced the need for a glossary of some sort, which would explain the technical terms which often turn up in communications relevant to bio-oxidative medicine. I immediately responded, "Yes! This is a great idea. I wish I had thought of that." Much of the time I had been spending trying to learn all I could about biological redox chemistry involved learning new words. There are words for chemicals, enzymes, organelles, receptors, reactions, metabolites, pathways, chemical probes, etc. It often took me much extra time and effort digressing into other literature, just to decipher many of the biochemical journal articles. These often used words with which I was not yet familiar. By carefully selecting and defining relevant terms, I knew I could save fellow physicians much time and trouble. Furthermore, a dictionary would readily enhance the value of all future lectures, articles, and other communications relevant to bio-oxidative medicine.
I proceeded to prepare a list of several hundred terms, which I believed would be important to know. My references were, medical dictionaries, chemical encyclopedias, biochemistry texts, and modern review articles. However, I wanted the dictionary to teach more than just the meanings of the chemical terms. I wanted it to explain how the substances or concepts presented were relevant to bio-oxidative medicine. For this reason, many of the following definitions include annotations. The reader is cordially invited to look up many words with which he/she is already familiar, to discover how they relate to oxidation- reduction. For example, DHEA is more than just a precursor to the sex steroids, as many physicians already know. It is not so well known, that DHEA also inhibits glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH), an important enzyme whose function is to supply reductants (in the form of NADPH) to other enzymes. Also DHEA increases the activity of glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH). This enzyme enhances the transfer of reducing equivalents into the mitochondria for energy production. As another example, paraquat is not just an herbicide of toxicologic interest. It is used as a probe in biochemical research to determine the effects of increased levels of superoxide.
I hope the readers will find that this dictionary takes much of the tedium out of reading biochemistry. I hope also that it will clarify redox related concepts in such a way as to encourage enthusiasm for and enjoyment in the study of biological oxidation.