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Front Pharmacol ; 13: 874375, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1933742


Excessive proinflammatory cytokine production induced by abnormal activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling, for example, by SARS-CoV-2 infection, can cause a fatal cytokine storm. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fluoxetine and fluvoxamine, used to treat depression, were recently reported to reduce the risk of severe disease in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the mechanisms of the anti-inflammatory effects of SSRIs, and which SSRI would be most suitable as an anti-inflammatory drug, remain unclear. Here, we examined the inhibitory effects of 5 FDA-approved SSRIs, paroxetine, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline and escitalopram, on the production of interleukin-6 (IL-6) induced by stimulation with multiple TLR agonists in murine macrophages and dendritic cells, and on the production of cytokines induced by concanavalin A in murine lymphocytes. In J774.1 murine macrophage cells, pretreatment with SSRIs significantly suppressed IL-6 release induced by TLR3 agonist poly(I:C), TLR4 agonist LPS or TLR9 agonist CpG ODN, but did not affect IL-6 release induced by TLR7 agonists imiquimod or resiquimod. In accordance with the results obtained in J774.1 cells, pretreatment with SSRIs also suppressed IL-6 release induced by a TLR3, TLR4 or TLR9 agonist in bone marrow-derived dendritic cells and peritoneal cells of C57BL/6 mice. On the other hand, interestingly, sertraline alone among the SSRIs amplified IL-6 production induced by TLR7 agonists in murine dendritic cells, though not in macrophages. Concanavalin A-induced production of IL-6 or IL-2 in murine lymphocytes was suppressed by SSRIs, suggesting that SSRIs also inhibit TLRs-independent IL-6 production. Since SSRIs suppressed both IL-6 production induced by multiple TLR agonists in macrophages or dendritic cells and TLR-independent IL-6 production in lymphocytes, they are promising candidates for treatment of patients with cytokine storm, which is mediated by overactivation of multiple TLRs in a complex manner, leading to the so-called IL-6 amplifier, an IL-6 overproduction loop. However, the 5 SSRIs examined here all showed different effects. Overall, our results suggest that fluoxetine may be the most promising candidate as an anti-inflammatory drug. An examination of the structural requirements indicated that the N-methyl group of fluoxetine has a critical role in the inhibition of IL-6 production.

Front Microbiol ; 12: 651403, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1231355


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused serious public health, social, and economic damage worldwide and effective drugs that prevent or cure COVID-19 are urgently needed. Approved drugs including Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir or Interferon were reported to inhibit the infection or propagation of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), however, their clinical efficacies have not yet been well demonstrated. To identify drugs with higher antiviral potency, we screened approved anti-parasitic/anti-protozoal drugs and identified an anti-malarial drug, Mefloquine, which showed the highest anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity among the tested compounds. Mefloquine showed higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity than Hydroxychloroquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 and Calu-3 cells, with IC50 = 1.28 µM, IC90 = 2.31 µM, and IC99 = 4.39 µM in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells. Mefloquine inhibited viral entry after viral attachment to the target cell. Combined treatment with Mefloquine and Nelfinavir, a replication inhibitor, showed synergistic antiviral activity. Our mathematical modeling based on the drug concentration in the lung predicted that Mefloquine administration at a standard treatment dosage could decline viral dynamics in patients, reduce cumulative viral load to 7% and shorten the time until virus elimination by 6.1 days. These data cumulatively underscore Mefloquine as an anti-SARS-CoV-2 entry inhibitor.

iScience ; 24(4): 102367, 2021 Apr 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157438


Antiviral treatments targeting the coronavirus disease 2019 are urgently required. We screened a panel of already approved drugs in a cell culture model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and identified two new agents having higher antiviral potentials than the drug candidates such as remdesivir and chroloquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells: the anti-inflammatory drug cepharanthine and human immunodeficiency virus protease inhibitor nelfinavir. Cepharanthine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 entry through the blocking of viral binding to target cells, while nelfinavir suppressed viral replication partly by protease inhibition. Consistent with their different modes of action, synergistic effect of this combined treatment to limit SARS-CoV-2 proliferation was highlighted. Mathematical modeling in vitro antiviral activity coupled with the calculated total drug concentrations in the lung predicts that nelfinavir will shorten the period until viral clearance by 4.9 days and the combining cepharanthine/nelfinavir enhanced their predicted efficacy. These results warrant further evaluation of the potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of cepharanthine and nelfinavir.