Oxidative stress during viral infection: a review

Free Radic Biol Med. 1996;21(5):641-9. doi: 10.1016/0891-5849(96)00131-1.


The purpose of this review is to analyze the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the pathogenesis of viral infections, an area of research that has recently gained momentum given the accumulation of evidence regarding the role of ROS in the pathogenesis of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Attention will be focussed on three classes of viruses: (1) RNA viruses, (2) DNA viruses, and (3) retroviruses, with particular attention to influenza viruses, hepatitis B virus, and HIV as representative examples of these three classes, respectively. For each type of virus, evidence for the following will be analyzed: (1) the effect of the virus on activation of phagocytic cells to release ROS and pro-oxidant cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor; (2) the effect of the virus on the pro-/antioxidant balance in host cells, including virally induced inhibition of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and virally induced increases in pro-oxidants such as nitric oxide; (3) effects of the redox state of the cell on the genetic composition of the virus as well as ROS-mediated release of host cell nuclear transcription factor-kappa-B, resulting in increased viral replication; and (4) efficacy of antioxidants as therapeutic agents in viral diseases of both animal models and patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis B / etiology
  • Hepatitis B / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Influenza, Human / etiology
  • Influenza, Human / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Phagocytes / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy
  • Virus Diseases / etiology*
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Free Radicals
  • Reactive Oxygen Species