Center Affiliation and Expertise: Systemic and Redox Toxicology
Dr. Buettner’s research focuses on the flow of electrons through chemical, biochemical, and biological systems and the consequences of changing the current in different biological circuits. In mitochondria electrons flow through a high flux circuit efficiently producing CO2 and H2O, capturing energy in ATP (respiration); some electrons do not flow to dioxygen, rather just to NAD+ (glycolysis). Of special interest to our lab is the flow of electrons into the many low flux biochemical circuits that partially reduce dioxygen producing superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. Understanding quantitatively the elements of these circuits (e.g. antioxidants, redox enzymes, and proteins) and how they dictate the fundamental biology of cells and tissues and overall health of organisms is the primary goal. Using this information to improve human health is the ultimate reward. A goal of the lab is to understand the basic chemistry and biology of free radicals and related oxidants in human health and of course antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, glutathione, as well as the enzyme systems that work in concert with these molecules. His work has provided a new view of ascorbate as the terminal, small molecule, water-soluble antioxidant. See: The pecking order of free radicals and antioxidants: Lipid peroxidation, -tocopherol, and ascorbate (PMID: 8434935); The ascorbate free radical as a marker of oxidative stress: An EPR study (PMID: 8384150); The concentration of glutathione in human erythrocytes is a heritable trait (PMID: 23938402). His lab has initiated the new research field of Quantitative Redox Biology. This represents a transition from understanding basic biology of cells and tissues at an observational level to a true mechanistic level. His work in this arena has changed the working paradigm of redox biology and toxicology. Examples are: A new paradigm: Manganese superoxide dismutase influences the production of H2O2 in cells and thereby their biological state (PMID: 17015180) and Superoxide dismutase in redox biology: The roles of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide (PMID: 21453242). The primary goal of our research program is: to do some good.