JAN 06, 2022 5:00 AM PST

Worryingly High Levels of Free Radicals in COVID Patients

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

COVID-19 infections trigger widespread oxidative damage, says new research by scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine. Findings from the study (that involved 60 COVID-19 patients) revealed that those hospitalized for the infection showed significantly elevated levels of oxidative stress and a sharp decrease in the cellular antioxidant glutathione.

An imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body causes oxidative stress, and high levels of circulating free radicals can ultimately lead to cell and tissue damage. During infections such as COVID-19, natural immune responses can temporarily spike oxidative stress in the body. However, experts say that chronically high oxidative stress levels have been linked to a number of serious diseases.

“Increased oxidative stress and reduced glutathione levels are associated with a number of conditions including aging, diabetes, HIV infection, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disorders, neurometabolic diseases, obesity, and others,” said one of the study’s authors, Rajagopal Sekhar.

Free radicals are highly reactive species that can compromise cell organelles and DNA. Cells produce a powerful antioxidant called glutathione to shield themselves from the harmful effects of these molecules. Low glutathione levels mean that free radicals don’t get neutralized, and cells and tissues are left vulnerable.

The team measured oxidative stress and glutathione levels of the cohort of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. They were surprised to note that COVID-19 patients aged 21 to 40 and 41 to 60 were glutathione deficient and under high oxidative stress.

“The finding that younger people with COVID-19 also are glutathione deficient and have elevated oxidative stress and oxidant damage is really surprising, because we do not normally see these defects in younger age groups,” explained Sekhar.

In their study, Sekhar and colleagues suggest that administering a glutathione precursor treatment called GlyNAC could help COVID-19 patients experiencing oxidative stress from inflammation and help fight off the infection.

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
OCT 20, 2022
Cancer
Mast Cells Facilitate Metastasis in HR+ Breast Cancer
Mast Cells Facilitate Metastasis in HR+ Breast Cancer
The gut microbiome describes the microorganisms and viruses that live throughout the digestive system.  The gut mic ...
OCT 31, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Ancient Viral DNA in Our Genome Has a Protective Function
Ancient Viral DNA in Our Genome Has a Protective Function
There is viral DNA in the human genome, and each instance traces back to an ancestor who was infected with a retrovirus. ...
NOV 19, 2022
Immunology
Substantial Monkeypox Transmission Happens Before Symptoms Are Recognized
Substantial Monkeypox Transmission Happens Before Symptoms Are Recognized
Researchers have found evidence for “substantial” monkeypox transmission before symptoms appear. A study pub ...
DEC 14, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Labroots' Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2022
Labroots' Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2022
2022 was a big year for science, so let’s take a look at some of the most interesting -and important- scientific d ...
JAN 04, 2023
Health & Medicine
Jack-of-All-Trades Psychiatric Treatment Had Unknown Anti-Inflammatory Actions
Jack-of-All-Trades Psychiatric Treatment Had Unknown Anti-Inflammatory Actions
The new anti-psychotic lumateperone was developed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I and II disorder in adults. But wh ...
JAN 17, 2023
Microbiology
Viruses Destroy Crucial Immune Cells That Battle Fungal Infections
Viruses Destroy Crucial Immune Cells That Battle Fungal Infections
Fungi that can cause lung infections are all over our environment. Recent research has highlighted how much fungal speci ...
Loading Comments...