Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a common cause of acute hepatitis that results in high mortality in pregnant women and may establish chronic infections in immunocompromised patients. We demonstrate for the first time that alpha interferon (IFN-α) and ribavirin inhibit in vitro HEV replication in both a subgenomic replicon and an infectious culture system based on a genotype 3 strain. IFN-α showed a moderate but significant synergism with ribavirin. These findings corroborate the reported clinical effectiveness of both drugs. In addition, the antiviral activity of ribavirin against wild-type genotype 1, 2, and 3 strains was confirmed by immunofluorescence staining. Furthermore, the in vitro activity of ribavirin depends on depletion of intracellular GTP pools, which is evident from the facts that (i) other GTP-depleting agents (5-ethynyl-1-β-D-ribofuranosylimidazole-4-carboxamide [EICAR] and mycophenolic acid) inhibit viral replication, (ii) exogenously added guanosine reverses the antiviral effects, and (iii) a strong correlation (R 2=0.9998) exists between the antiviral activity and GTP depletion of ribavirin and other GTP-depleting agents. Copyright

dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01795-13, hdl.handle.net/1765/64500
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/260644 - Small-molecule Inhibitor Leads Versus emerging and neglected RNA viruses (SILVER)
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Debing, Y, Emerson, B, Wang, Y, Pan, Q, Balzarini, J, Dallmeier, K, & Neyts, J. (2014). Ribavirin inhibits in vitro hepatitis E virus replication through depletion of cellular GTP pools and is moderately synergistic with alpha interferon. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 58(1), 267–273. doi:10.1128/AAC.01795-13