Article Date: 10 Mar 2013 - 0:00 PST
Flu viruses are a major cause of death and sickness around the world,
and antiviral drugs currently do not protect the most seriously ill
patients. nza-virus-infected mice, even at advanced stages of disease. A
study published by Cell Press in the journal Cell reveals that a
compound derived from fats found in fish oils prevents death in
influenza-virus-infected mice, even at advanced stages of disease. The study offers a promising strategy for the treatment of patients with severe influenza virus infections.
"Given the potential for future lethal pandemics, effective drugs are
needed for the treatment of severe influenza, such as that caused by
H5N1 viruses," says senior study author Yumiko Imai of Akita University.
"We have identified a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of
severe influenza that is effective under conditions where known
antiviral drugs fail to protect from death."
available antiviral drugs inhibit influenza virus replication, but they
are not typically effective when given to patients as little as 2 days
after infection. In an attempt to discover more effective drug targets
for influenza, scientists have recently identified several genes and
molecules that are crucial for influenza virus replication. However,
until now it was not known whether naturally occurring lipids, such as
those derived from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in
fish oils, might also be involved in influenza virus infections.
To answer this question, Imai and her team screened for PUFA-derived
lipids in influenza-virus-infected human lung cells. When they treated
infected cells with these lipids, they found that protectin D1 (PD1) was
the most effective at inhibiting the replication of viruses, including
In addition, low levels of PD1 in the lungs of
influenza-virus-infected mice were associated with severe infection and
highly pathogenic viruses, such as H5N1. Treatment with PD1 in
combination with an approved antiviral drug improved the survival of
influenza-virus-infected mice and prevented death, even when given 2
days after infection. "Our findings suggest that PD1could serve as a
biomarker as well as a much needed antiviral drug for severe and lethal
influenza virus infections," Imai says.
Cell, Morita et al.: "The lipid mediator protectin D1 inhibits influenza virus replication and improves severe influenza."