Nitroxide compounds have been used for many years as biophysical tools, but only during the past 15-20 years have the many interesting biochemical interactions been discovered and harnessed for therapeutic applications. By modifying oxidative stress and altering the redox status of tissues, nitroxides have the ability to interact with and alter many metabolic processes. This interaction can be exploited for therapeutic and research use, including protection against ionizing radiation, as probes in functional magnetic resonance imaging, cancer prevention and treatment, control of hypertension and weight, and protection from damage resulting from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Although much remains to be done, many applications have been well studied, and some are presently being tested in clinical trials. The therapeutic and research uses of nitroxides are reviewed here, with a focus on the progress from initial development to modern, state-of-the art trials.
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