Journal article Open Access

Secretory leukoprotease inhibitor and pulmonary surfactant serve as principal defenses against influenza A virus infection in the airway and chemical agents up-regulating their levels may have therapeutic potential

Kido, Hiroshi; Okumura, Yuushi; Yamada, Hiroshi; Mizuno, Dai; Higashi, Youichirou; Yano, Mihiro

Influenza A virus (IAV) is one of the most common infectious pathogens in humans. Entry of this virus into cells is primarily determined by host cellular trypsin-type processing proteases, which proteolytically activate viral membrane fusion glycoprotein precursors. Human IAV and murine parainfluenza virus type 1 Sendai virus are exclusively pneumotropic, and the infectious organ tropism of these viruses is determined by the susceptibility of the viral envelope glycoprotein to cleavage by proteases in the airway. Proteases in the upper respiratory tract are suppressed by secretory leukoprotease inhibitor, and those in the lower respiratory tract are suppressed by pulmonary surfactant, which by adsorption inhibits the interaction between the proteases and viral membrane proteins. Although the protease activities are predominant over the activities of inhibitory compounds under normal airway conditions, intranasal administration of inhibitors was able to significantly suppress multi-cycles of viral replication in the airway. In addition, we identified chemical agents that could act as defensive factors by up-regulating the levels of the natural inhibitors and immunoglobulin A (IgA) in airway fluids. One of these compounds, ambroxol, is a mucolytic and anti-oxidant agent that stimulates the release of secretory leukoprotease inhibitor and pulmonary surfactant in the early phase, and IgA in the late phase of infection at an optimal dose, i.e. a dose sufficient to inhibit virus proliferation and increase the survival rate of animals after treatment with a lethal dose of IAV. Another agent, clarithromycin, is a macrolide antibiotic that increases IgA levels through augmentation of interleukin-12 levels and mucosal immunization in the airway. In addition to the sialidase inhibitors, which prevent the release of IAV from infected cells, inhibitors of the processing proteases and chemical agents that augment mucosal immunity and/or levels of the relevant defensive compounds may also ultimately prove to be useful as new anti-influenza agents.

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