SARS-CoV2-mediated suppression of NRF2-signaling reveals potent antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity of 4-octyl-itaconate and dimethyl fumarate

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Antiviral strategies to inhibit Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) and the pathogenic consequences of COVID-19 are urgently required. Here, we demonstrate that the NRF2 antioxidant gene expression pathway is suppressed in biopsies obtained from COVID-19 patients. Further, we uncover that NRF2 agonists 4-octyl-itaconate (4-OI) and the clinically approved dimethyl fumarate (DMF) induce a cellular antiviral program that potently inhibits replication of SARS-CoV2 across cell lines. The inhibitory effect of 4-OI and DMF extends to the replication of several other pathogenic viruses including Herpes Simplex Virus-1 and-2, Vaccinia virus, and Zika virus through a type I interferon (IFN)-independent mechanism. In addition, 4-OI and DMF limit host inflammatory responses to SARS-CoV2 infection associated with airway COVID-19 pathology. In conclusion, NRF2 agonists 4-OI and DMF induce a distinct IFN-independent antiviral program that is broadly effective in limiting virus replication and in suppressing the pro-inflammatory responses of human pathogenic viruses, including SARS-CoV2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4938
JournalNature Communications
Volume11
Issue1
Number of pages12
ISSN2041-1723
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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