Interferon-β and mycophenolic acid are potent inhibitors of middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus in cell-based assays

Brit J. Hart, Julie Dyall, Elena Postnikova, Huanying Zhou, Jason Kindrachuk, Reed F. Johnson, Gene G. Olinger, Matthew B. Frieman, Michael R. Holbrook, Peter B. Jahrling, Lisa Hensley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) presents a novel emerging threat to public health worldwide. Several treatments for infected individuals have been suggested including IFN, ribavirin and passive immunotherapy with convalescent plasma. Administration of IFN-α2b and ribavirin has improved outcomes of MERS-CoV infection in rhesus macaques when administered within 8 h post-challenge. However, detailed and systematic evidence on the activity of other clinically available drugs is limited. Here we compared the susceptibility of MERS-CoV with different IFN products (IFN-α2b, IFN-γ, IFN-universal, IFN-α2a and IFN-β), as well as with two antivirals, ribavirin and mycophenolic acid (MPA), against MERS-CoV (Hu/Jordan-N3/2012) in vitro. Of all the IFNs tested, IFN-β showed the strongst inhibition of MERS-CoV in vitro, with an IC50 of 1.37 U ml-1, 41 times lower than the previously reported IC50 (56.08 U ml-1) of IFN-α2b. IFN-β inhibition was confirmed in the virus yield reduction assay, with an IC90 of 38.8 U ml-1. Ribavirin did not inhibit viral replication in vitro at a dose that would be applicable to current treatment protocols in humans. In contrast, MPA showed strong inhibition, with an IC50 of 2.87 mM. This drug has not been previously tested against MERS-CoV and may provide an alternative to ribavirin for treatment of MERS-CoV. In conclusion, IFN-β, MPA or a combination of the two may be beneficial in the treatment of MERS-CoV or as a post-exposure intervention in high-risk patients with known exposures to MERS-CoV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-577
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of General Virology
Volume95
Issue numberPART3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Interferon-β and mycophenolic acid are potent inhibitors of middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus in cell-based assays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this