Laninamivir octanoate and artificial surfactant combination therapy significantly increases survival of mice infected with lethal influenza H1N1 Virus

Masaya Fukushi, Makoto Yamashita, Tohru Miyoshi-Akiyama, Shuku Kubo, Kenji Yamamoto, Koichiro Kudo
PloS One 2012, 7 (8): e42419

BACKGROUND: Patients with influenza virus infection can develop severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which have a high mortality. Influenza virus infection is treated worldwide mainly by neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs). However, monotherapy with NAIs is insufficient for severe pneumonia secondary to influenza virus infection. We previously demonstrated that mice infected with a lethal dose of influenza virus develop diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) with alveolar collapse similar to that seen in ARDS in humans. Additionally, pulmonary surfactant proteins were gradually increased in mouse serum, suggesting a decrease in pulmonary surfactant in the lung. Therefore, the present study examined whether combination therapy of NAI with exogenous artificial surfactant affects mortality of influenza virus-infected mice.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: BALB/c mice were inoculated with several viral doses of influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8) virus (H1N1). The mice were additionally administered exogenous artificial surfactant in the presence or absence of a new NAI, laninamivir octanoate. Mouse survival, body weight and general condition were observed for up to 20 days after inoculation. Viral titer and cytokine/chemokine levels in the lungs, lung weight, pathological analysis, and blood O(2) and CO(2) pressures were evaluated. Infected mice treated with combination therapy of laninamivir octanoate with artificial surfactant showed a significantly higher survival rate compared with those that received laninamivir octanoate monotherapy (p = 0.003). However, virus titer, lung weight and cytokine/chemokine responses were not different between the groups. Histopathological examination, a hydrostatic lung test and blood gas analysis showed positive results in the combination therapy group.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Combination therapy of laninamivir octanoate with artificial surfactant reduces lethality in mice infected with influenza virus, and eventually suppresses DAD formation and preserves lung function. This combination could be effective for prevention of severe pneumonia secondary to influenza virus infection in humans, which is not improved by NAI monotherapy.

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