Effective Interferon Lambda Treatment Regimen To Control Lethal MERS-CoV Infection in Mice

Ronald Dijkman, Abhishek Kumar Verma, Muneeswaran Selvaraj, Roshan Ghimire, Hans Henrik Gad, Rune Hartmann, Sunil More, Stanley Perlman*, Volker Thiel*, Rudragouda Channappanavar

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Effective broad-spectrum antivirals are critical to prevent and control emerging human coronavirus (hCoV) infections. Despite considerable progress made toward identifying and evaluating several synthetic broad-spectrum antivirals against hCoV infections, a narrow therapeutic window has limited their success. Enhancing the endogenous interferon (IFN) and IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) response is another antiviral strategy that has been known for decades. However, the side effects of pegylated type-I IFNs (IFN-Is) and the proinflammatory response detected after delayed IFN-I therapy have discouraged their clinical use. In contrast to IFN-Is, IFN-l, a dominant IFN at the epithelial surface, has been shown to be less proinflammatory. Consequently, we evaluated the prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy of IFN-l in hCoV-infected airway epithelial cells and mice. Human primary airway epithelial cells treated with a single dose of IFN-I (IFN-a) and IFN-l showed similar ISG expression, whereas cells treated with two doses of IFN-l expressed elevated levels of ISG compared to that of IFN-a-treated cells. Similarly, mice treated with two doses of IFN-l were better protected than mice that received a single dose, and a combination of prophylactic and delayed therapeutic regimens completely protected mice from a lethal Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) infection. A two-dose IFN-l regimen significantly reduced lung viral titers and inflammatory cytokine levels with marked improvement in lung inflammation. Collectively, we identified an effective regimen for IFN-l use and demonstrated the protective efficacy of IFN-l in MERS-CoV-infected mice. IMPORTANCE Effective antiviral agents are urgently required to prevent and treat individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging viral infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted our efforts to identify, develop, and evaluate several antiviral agents. However, a narrow therapeutic window has limited the protective efficacy of several broad-spectrum and CoV-specific antivirals. IFN-l is an antiviral agent of interest due to its ability to induce a robust endogenous antiviral state and low levels of inflammation. Here, we evaluated the protective efficacy and effective treatment regimen of IFN-l in mice infected with a lethal dose of MERS-CoV. We show that while prophylactic and early therapeutic IFN-l administration is protective, delayed treatment is detrimental. Notably, a combination of prophylactic and delayed therapeutic administration of IFN-l protected mice from severe MERS. Our results highlight the prophylactic and therapeutic use of IFN-l against lethal hCoV and likely other viral lung infections.

TidsskriftJournal of Virology
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2022


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