Polyphenylene carboxymethylene (PPCM) microbicide repurposed as antiviral against SARS-CoV-2. Proof of concept in primary human undifferentiated epithelial cells

Olivier Escaffre, Alexander N. Freiberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 200 million people throughout the world as of August 2021. There are currently no approved treatments providing high chance of recovery from a severe case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2, and the beneficial effect of Remdesivir and passive immunization therapies may only be seen when administered early on disease onset. The emergence of variants is also raising concerns regarding the efficacy of antibody therapies, antivirals, and vaccines. Therefore, there is still a need to develop new antivirals. Here, we investigated the suitability of primary human epithelial cells from the trachea/bronchia (NHBE) and small airway (SAEC) as lung models of SARS-CoV-2 infection to determine, whether the microbicide polyphenylene carboxymethylene (PPCM) has antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Both NHBE and SAEC expressed proteins required for virus entry in lung epithelial cells. However, these cells were only low to moderately permissive to SARS-CoV-2 as titers increased at best by 2.5 log10 during an 8-day kinetic. Levels of replication in SAEC, unlike in NHBE, were consistent with data from other studies using human normal tissues or air-liquid interface cultures, suggesting that SAEC may be more relevant to use than NHBE for drug screening. PPCM EC50 against SARS-CoV-2 was between 32 and 132 μg/ml with a selectivity index between 12 and 41, depending on the cell type and the infective dose used. PPCM doses were consistent with those previously showing effect against other human viruses. Finally, PPCM antiviral effect observed in SAEC was in line with reduction of inflammatory markers observed overly expressed in severe COVID-19 patients. Altogether, our data support the fact that PPCM should be further evaluated in vivo for toxicity and antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105162
JournalAntiviral research
Volume194
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Coronavirus
  • PPCM
  • Polyphenylene carboxymethylene
  • Respiratory infections
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology

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