The novel COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world’s population differently: mostly in the presence of conditions such as aging, diabetes and hypertension the virus triggers a lethal cytokine storm and patients die from acute respiratory distress syndrome, whereas in many cases the disease has a mild or even asymptomatic progression. A common denominator in all conditions associated with COVID-19 appears to be the impaired redox homeostasis responsible for reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation; therefore, levels of glutathione (GSH), the key anti-oxidant guardian in all tissues, could be critical in extinguishing the exacerbated inflammation that triggers organ failure in COVID-19. The present review provides a biochemical investigation of the mechanisms leading to deadly inflammation in severe COVID-19, counterbalanced by GSH. The pathways competing for GSH are described to illustrate the events concurring to cause a depletion of endogenous GSH stocks. Drawing on evidence from literature that demonstrates the reduced levels of GSH in the main conditions clinically associated with severe disease, we highlight the relevance of restoring GSH levels in the attempt to protect the most vulnerable subjects from severe symptoms of COVID-19. Finally, we discuss the current data about the feasibility of increasing GSH levels, which could be used to prevent and subdue the disease.
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