Redox-modulating agents in the treatment of viral infections

Paola Checconi, Marta De Angelis, Maria Elena Marcocci, Alessandra Fraternale, Mauro Magnani, Anna Teresa Palamara, Lucia Nencioni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Viruses use cell machinery to replicate their genome and produce viral proteins. For this reason, several intracellular factors, including the redox state, might directly or indirectly affect the progression and outcome of viral infection. In physiological conditions, the redox balance between oxidant and antioxidant species is maintained by enzymatic and non-enzymatic systems, and it finely regulates several cell functions. Different viruses break this equilibrium and induce an oxidative stress that in turn facilitates specific steps of the virus lifecycle and activates an inflammatory response. In this context, many studies highlighted the importance of redox-sensitive pathways as novel cell-based targets for therapies aimed at blocking both viral replication and virus-induced inflammation. In the review, we discuss the most recent findings in this field. In particular, we describe the effects of natural or synthetic redox-modulating molecules in inhibiting DNA or RNA virus replication as well as inflammatory pathways. The importance of the antioxidant transcription factor Nrf2 is also discussed. Most of the data reported here are on influenza virus infection. We believe that this approach could be usefully applied to fight other acute respiratory viral infections characterized by a strong inflammatory response, like COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4084
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Antioxidants
  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Nrf2
  • Redox state
  • Reduced glutathione (GSH)
  • Viral infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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