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J Gen Virol. 2002 Aug;83(Pt 8):1897-905.

Suppression of Japanese encephalitis virus infection by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Department of Education and Research, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infection generates a rapid inflammatory response including peripheral neutrophil leucocytosis and infiltration of neutrophils into extraneural tissue. The level of inflammation correlates well with the clinical outcome in Japanese encephalitis patients. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), used medicinally for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, are being considered for prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as for treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection. Apart from their ability to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, the mechanisms underlying the beneficial therapeutic effects are largely unknown. We used aspirin, indomethacin and sodium salicylate to study the role of NSAIDs in JEV propagation in vitro. We found that NSAIDs suppressed JEV propagation in neuronal and non-neuronal cells. Blockade of cyclooxygenase activity by NSAIDs caused decreased production of free radicals and prostaglandins. However, these pharmacological alterations did not seem to correlate well with the antiviral effects. When cells were treated with the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors PD 98059 and SB 203580, salicylate lost its antiviral effect. The activation of MAPK by anisomycin mimicked the action of salicylate in suppressing JEV-induced cytotoxicity. The decreased phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) was induced by JEV infection and the decrease in ERK was reversed by salicylate. Our data suggest that the signalling pathways of MAPK play a role in the antiviral action of salicylate.

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