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Int J Mol Sci ; 23(9)2022 Apr 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1820294


Connexin43 (Cx43) hemichannels form a pathway for cellular communication between the cell and its extracellular environment. Under pathological conditions, Cx43 hemichannels release adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which triggers inflammation. Over the past two years, azithromycin, chloroquine, dexamethasone, favipiravir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, remdesivir, ribavirin, and ritonavir have been proposed as drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is associated with prominent systemic inflammation. The current study aimed to investigate if Cx43 hemichannels, being key players in inflammation, could be affected by these drugs which were formerly designated as COVID-19 drugs. For this purpose, Cx43-transduced cells were exposed to these drugs. The effects on Cx43 hemichannel activity were assessed by measuring extracellular ATP release, while the effects at the transcriptional and translational levels were monitored by means of real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis and immunoblot analysis, respectively. Exposure to lopinavir and ritonavir combined (4:1 ratio), as well as to remdesivir, reduced Cx43 mRNA levels. None of the tested drugs affected Cx43 protein expression.

COVID-19 , Connexin 43 , Adenosine Triphosphate/metabolism , COVID-19/drug therapy , Connexin 43/drug effects , Connexin 43/genetics , Connexin 43/metabolism , Humans , Inflammation , Lopinavir/pharmacology , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Ritonavir/pharmacology
Antiviral Res ; 202: 105311, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1773103


Nelfinavir is an HIV protease inhibitor that has been widely prescribed as a component of highly active antiretroviral therapy, and has been reported to exert in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. We here assessed the effect of Nelfinavir in a SARS-CoV-2 infection model in hamsters. Despite the fact that Nelfinavir, [50 mg/kg twice daily (BID) for four consecutive days], did not reduce viral RNA load and infectious virus titres in the lung of infected animals, treatment resulted in a substantial improvement of SARS-CoV-2-induced lung pathology. This was accompanied by a dense infiltration of neutrophils in the lung interstitium which was similarly observed in non-infected hamsters. Nelfinavir resulted also in a marked increase in activated neutrophils in the blood, as observed in non-infected animals. Although Nelfinavir treatment did not alter the expression of chemoattractant receptors or adhesion molecules on human neutrophils, in vitro migration of human neutrophils to the major human neutrophil attractant CXCL8 was augmented by this protease inhibitor. Nelfinavir appears to induce an immunomodulatory effect associated with increasing neutrophil number and functionality, which may be linked to the marked improvement in SARS-CoV-2 lung pathology independent of its lack of antiviral activity. Since Nelfinavir is no longer used for the treatment of HIV, we studied the effect of two other HIV protease inhibitors, namely the combination Lopinavir/Ritonavir (Kaletra™) in this model. This combination resulted in a similar protective effect as Nelfinavir against SARS-CoV2 induced lung pathology in hamsters.

COVID-19 , HIV Infections , HIV Protease Inhibitors , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cricetinae , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , HIV Protease Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Lopinavir/pharmacology , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Lung , Mesocricetus , Nelfinavir/pharmacology , Nelfinavir/therapeutic use , RNA, Viral , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 117(43): 26955-26965, 2020 10 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-841910


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) rapidly spread around the globe after its emergence in Wuhan in December 2019. With no specific therapeutic and prophylactic options available, the virus has infected millions of people of which more than half a million succumbed to the viral disease, COVID-19. The urgent need for an effective treatment together with a lack of small animal infection models has led to clinical trials using repurposed drugs without preclinical evidence of their in vivo efficacy. We established an infection model in Syrian hamsters to evaluate the efficacy of small molecules on both infection and transmission. Treatment of SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters with a low dose of favipiravir or hydroxychloroquine with(out) azithromycin resulted in, respectively, a mild or no reduction in virus levels. However, high doses of favipiravir significantly reduced infectious virus titers in the lungs and markedly improved lung histopathology. Moreover, a high dose of favipiravir decreased virus transmission by direct contact, whereas hydroxychloroquine failed as prophylaxis. Pharmacokinetic modeling of hydroxychloroquine suggested that the total lung exposure to the drug did not cause the failure. Our data on hydroxychloroquine (together with previous reports in macaques and ferrets) thus provide no scientific basis for the use of this drug in COVID-19 patients. In contrast, the results with favipiravir demonstrate that an antiviral drug at nontoxic doses exhibits a marked protective effect against SARS-CoV-2 in a small animal model. Clinical studies are required to assess whether a similar antiviral effect is achievable in humans without toxic effects.

Amides/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Pyrazines/therapeutic use , Amides/pharmacokinetics , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Disease Transmission, Infectious/prevention & control , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , Hydroxychloroquine/pharmacokinetics , Lung/drug effects , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Pyrazines/pharmacokinetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome , Vero Cells , Viral Load/drug effects