Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus is inhibited by interferon- alpha

J Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 1;189(7):1164-7. doi: 10.1086/382597. Epub 2004 Mar 12.


Current treatment schemes for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) include broad-spectrum antibiotics, glucocorticoids, and ribavirin. We evaluated the susceptibility of the SARS-related coronavirus (SARS CoV) to ribavirin and interferon (IFN)- alpha in vitro by use of cytopathic effect, plaque assay, and immunoblot analysis. Ribavirin did not inhibit viral growth at concentrations attainable in human serum. In contrast, IFN- alpha showed an in vitro inhibitory effect starting at concentrations of 1000 IU/mL. In conclusion, ribavirin alone is unlikely to be beneficial in the prophylaxis or treatment of SARS CoV infections. Clinical trials with IFN- alpha might be justified to determine a beneficial effect on the outcome of SARS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytopathogenic Effect, Viral / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology*
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin / pharmacology
  • SARS Virus / drug effects*
  • SARS Virus / growth & development
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology*
  • Vero Cells


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin