New Insights into the Role of Glutathione in the Mechanism of Fever

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 19;21(4):1393. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041393.


Glutathione is one of the most important and potent antioxidants. The development of pharmacological compounds that can either increase or decrease glutathione concentrations has allowed investigation into the role of glutathione in various biological processes, including immune responses. Recent findings have shown that glutathione not only affects certain factors involved in immunological processes but also modifies complex immune reactions such as fever. Until recently, it was not known why some patients do not develop fever during infection. Data suggest that fever induction is associated with oxidative stress; therefore, antioxidants such as glutathione can reduce pyrexia. Surprisingly, new studies have shown that low glutathione levels can also inhibit fever. In this review, we focus on recent advances in this area, with an emphasis on the role of glutathione in immune responses accompanied by fever. We describe evidence showing that disturbed glutathione homeostasis may be responsible for the lack of fever during infections. We also discuss the biological significance of the antipyretic effects produced by pharmacological glutathione modulators.

Keywords: antioxidants; fever; glutathione modulators; immunity; inflammation; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antipyretics / chemistry
  • Antipyretics / pharmacology*
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Communicable Diseases / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fever / drug therapy
  • Fever / immunology
  • Fever / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Antipyretics
  • Cytokines
  • Glutathione