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Abstract

Purpose. Influenza viruses are a common cause of human respiratory infections, resulting in epidemics of high morbidity and mortality. We investigated the effect of a novel mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor in vitro and in a murine influenza model to further explore whether p38 MAPK inhibition could reduce viral replication.

Methods. In vitro, the antiviral effect of p38 MAPK inhibitor BCT194 was evaluated in differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs); in vivo, female BALB/c mice were infected intranasally with 150 pfu of influenza H1N1 A/Puerto Rico/8/34 and treated with BCT197 (a closely related p38 MAPK inhibitor with an IC50 value of<1 µM, currently in clinical testing), dexamethasone or oseltamivir (Tamiflu) starting 24 h post infection. Body weight, bronchoalveolar lavage cells, cytokines, total protein and lactate dehydrogenase as well as serum cytokines were measured; a subset of animals was evaluated histopathologically.

Results/Key findings. p38MAP kinase inhibition with BCT194 had no impact on influenza replication in HBECs. When examining BCT197 in vivo, and comparing to vehicle-treated animals, reduced weight loss, improvement in survival and lack of impaired viral control was observed at BCT197 concentrations relevant to those being used in clinical trials of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; at higher concentrations of BCT197 these effects were reduced.

Conclusions. Compared to vehicle treatment, BCT197 (administered at a clinically relevant concentration) improved outcomes in a mouse model of influenza. This is encouraging given that the use of innate inflammatory pathway inhibitors may raise concerns of negative effects on infection regulation.

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2018-01-24
2019-12-07
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