Ribavirin-related compounds exertin vitroinhibitory effects toward rabies virus

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Rabies remains an invariably fatal neurological disease despite the availability of a preventive vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis that must be immediately administered to the exposed individual before symptom onset. There is no effective medication for treatment during the symptomatic phase. Ribavirin, a guanine nucleoside analog, is a potent inhibitor of rabies virus (RABV) replication in vitro but lacks clinical efficacy. Therefore, we attempted to identify potential ribavirin analogs with comparable or superior anti-RABV activity. Antiviral activity and cytotoxicity of the compounds were initially examined in human neuroblastoma cells. Among the tested compounds, two exhibited a 5- to 27-fold higher anti-RABV activity than ribavirin. Examination of the anti-RABV mechanisms of action of the compounds using time-of-addition and minigenome assays revealed that they inhibited viral genome replication and transcription. Addition of exogenous guanosine to RABV-infected cells diminished the antiviral activity of the compounds, suggesting that they are involved in guanosine triphosphate (GTP) pool depletion by inhibiting inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH). Taken together, our findings underline the potency of nucleoside analogs as a class of antiviral compounds for the development of novel agents against RABV.

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