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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 36 million people have died so far due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related illnesses and an estimated 35.3 million people are currently living with HIV infection. One hallmark of HIV is the inability of the immune system to function properly. People with HIV often develop infections that can become life-threatening, and one such infection is tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a mycobacteria.
Researchers extracted immune system cells from people with HIV to see how well these cells would control the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis. They found that the infection itself caused a depletion in glutathione and that the immune cells, in turn, could not control the mycobacteria. By boosting the body’s levels of active glutathione, once again the cells could control the mycobacteria.
Glutathione is an antioxidant and plays a vital role in cellular detoxification and enhancement of immune functions. So having high glutathione levels can improve your chances of fighting off the deadly bacteria that cause tuberculosis in the first place. Scientists have theorized that glutathione depletion may play at least a partial causative role in reduced immune response in people with HIV, and that increasing systemic glutathione could improve immune system function in this group.
With antibiotic resistant strains of tuberculosis on the rise, it is very important for individuals to keep glutathione and immune function high to prevent infection in the first place.