Study: Individuals With COVID-19 Have Increased Levels of Oxidant Damage, Oxidative Stress


The results of an analysis from investigators from Baylor College of Medicine suggest that supplementation with GlyNAC might be beneficial to those who have the virus.

Individuals who were hospitalized with COVID-19 had significantly increased levels of oxidative stress and oxidant damage and markedly reduced levels of glutathione compared with healthy age-matched individuals whose samples were taken in 2019, according to results of a study by investigators at the Baylor College of Medicine.

The results, published in Antioxidants, suggest that supplementation with GlyNAC might be beneficial to individuals with COVID-19.

GylNAC is a combination of glutathione precursors previously shown to reduce oxidant damage and oxidative stress, as well as increase glutathione and improve health indicators, such as inflammation.

“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,” Rajagopal Sekhar, MD, associate professor of medicine in the section of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Baylor University, said in a statement.

“We suspected that COVID-19 also might be affecting oxidative stress and glutathione, and in this study, we confirmed this in adults hospitalized with COVID-19. We found that these defects occur in all adult age groups including young people and worsen with increasing age,” Sekhar said.

However, GlyNAC supplementation has not been studied in association with COVID-19.
The study included 60 individuals, 35 men and 25 women, ranging from aged 21 to 85 years, who had been admitted to the hospital diagnosed with COVID-19.

Investigators measured the levels of glutathione, oxidant damage, and oxidative stress, in the individual’s blood samples and compared those with healthy individuals.

They organized the samples into 3 different groups: aged 21 to 40 years , 41 to 60 years, and 61 years and older.

Sekhar said that individuals in the aged 21 to 40 years and 41 to 60 years groups had less glutathione and more oxidative stress compared with the same age groups without COVID-19.

In previous studies, Sekhar found that healthy adults had stable levels of glutathione oxidant damage, and oxidative stress until the individual entered their 60s, then the oxidant damage and oxidative stress, and glutathione declined.

“We knew that healthy people without COVID-19 above the age of 60 years tend to be glutathione-deficient and have elevated oxidative stress. However, when the 60-plus age group gets COVID-19, their glutathione levels were much lower and oxidative stress was much higher than those of a similar age but without COVID-19,” Sekhar said.

The findings show that younger individuals with COVID-19 also are glutathione deficient and have elevated exudative stress and oxidant damage, Sekhar said

Older individuals with COVID-19 also had higher level of defects in these outcomes.

The increased levels of oxidative stress and reduced glutathione are not only present in older individuals but also those with diabetes and HIV, Sekhar said.

In other studies, investigators also found the supplementing GlyNAC improved the defects in those populations.

Supplementing GlyNAC also reversed other abnormalities in older individuals and those with HIV, including cognitive decline, endothelial dysfunction, gene damage, inflammation, and insulin resistance, and improved body composition, exercise capacity, and muscle strength.

Some of these defects have also been reported in individuals with COVID-19.


COVID-19 patients have severely increased levels of oxidative stress and oxidant damage, and glutathione deficiency. EurekAlert. News release. January 3, 2022. Accessed January 4, 2022.

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