Azithromycin induces anti-viral effects in cultured bronchial epithelial cells from COPD patients

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Abstract

Rhinovirus infection is a major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations and may contribute to the development into severe stages of COPD. The macrolide antibiotic azithromycin may exert anti-viral actions and has been reported to reduce exacerbations in COPD. However, little is known about its anti-viral actions on bronchial epithelial cells at clinically relevant concentrations. Primary bronchial epithelial cells from COPD donors and healthy individuals were treated continuously with azithromycin starting 24 h before infection with rhinovirus RV16. Expression of interferons, RIG-I like helicases, pro-inflammatory cytokines and viral load were analysed. Azithromycin transiently increased expression of IFNβ and IFN? 1 and RIG-I like helicases in un-infected COPD cells. Further, azithromycin augmented RV16-induced expression of interferons and RIG-I like helicases in COPD cells but not in healthy epithelial cells. Azithromycin also decreased viral load. However, it only modestly altered RV16-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. Adding budesonide did not reduce interferon-inducing effects of azithromycin. Possibly by inducing expression of RIG-I like helicases, azithromycin increased rhinovirus-induced expression of interferons in COPD but not in healthy bronchial epithelium. These effects would reduce bronchial viral load, supporting azithromycin's emerging role in prevention of exacerbations of COPD.

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  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
Original languageEnglish
Article number28698
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 28
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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