Ribavirin and interferon-beta synergistically inhibit SARS-associated coronavirus replication in animal and human cell lines

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jan 28;326(4):905-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.11.128.


Initial in vitro investigations demonstrated type I interferons (IFNs: IFN-alpha, IFN-beta) to inhibit replication of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), but found the nucleoside analogue ribavirin ineffective in Vero cells. In this report, ribavirin was shown to inhibit SARS-CoV replication in five different cell types of animal or human origin at therapeutically achievable concentrations. Since clinical anti-SARS-CoV activity of type I interferons or ribavirin is limited, we investigated the combination of IFN-beta and ribavirin. Determination of the virus yield indicated highly synergistic anti-SARS-CoV action of the combination suggesting the consideration of ribavirin plus IFN-beta for the treatment of SARS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Interferon-beta / administration & dosage*
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / virology*
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • SARS Virus / drug effects*
  • SARS Virus / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferon-beta