Oxygen free radicals as pathogenic molecules in viral diseases

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1991 Nov;198(2):721-7. doi: 10.3181/00379727-198-43309c.


Oxygen free radicals such as superoxide anion (O2-) were generated markedly in influenza virus-infected mouse lung, and these molecular species were identified as the potent pathogenic agents. This finding has many important implications for understanding viral pathogenesis: namely, the direct viral cytotoxicity (referred cytopathic effect) is only a fraction of several types of events induced by virus infection. The toxicity and reactivity of oxygen radicals, which are presumably generated in excessive amounts by the overreaction of the host's immune response against the organs or tissues in which viruses are replicating, may explain the mechanism of tissue injuries observed not only in influenza virus infection in mice, but also in other types of viral diseases in which immunological interactions are usually involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / etiology*
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism


  • Free Radicals
  • Superoxides
  • Oxygen