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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

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

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Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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