Antiviral efficacy of favipiravir against two prominent etiological agents of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2013 Oct;57(10):4673-80. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00886-13. Epub 2013 Jul 15.


Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is caused by infection with several Sigmodontinae- and Neotominae-borne hantaviruses and has a case fatality rate of 30 to 50%. Humans often become infected by inhalation of materials contaminated with virus-laden rodent urine or saliva, although human-to-human transmission has also been documented for Andes virus (ANDV). The ability to transmit via aerosolization, coupled with the high mortality rates and lack of therapeutic options, makes the development of medical countermeasures against HPS imperative. In the present study, we evaluated the efficacy of the broad-spectrum antiviral agent favipiravir (T-705) against Sin Nombre virus (SNV) and ANDV, the predominant causes of HPS in North and South America, respectively. In vitro, T-705 potently inhibited SNV and ANDV, as evidenced by decreased detection of viral RNA and reduced infectious titers. For both viruses, the 90% effective concentration was estimated at ≤5 μg/ml (≤31.8 μM). In the lethal ANDV hamster model, daily administration of oral T-705 at 50 or 100 mg/kg of body weight diminished the detection of viral RNA and antigen in tissue specimens and significantly improved survival rates. Oral T-705 therapy remained protective against HPS when treatment was initiated prior to the onset of viremia. No disease model for SNV exists; however, using a hamster-adapted SNV, we found that daily administration of oral T-705 significantly reduced the detection of SNV RNA and antigen in tissue specimens, suggesting that the compound would also be effective against HPS in North America. Combined, these results suggest that T-705 treatment is beneficial for postexposure prophylaxis against HPS-causing viruses and should be considered for probable exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Amides / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Orthohantavirus / drug effects
  • Orthohantavirus / physiology
  • Pyrazines / therapeutic use*
  • Sin Nombre virus / drug effects
  • Sin Nombre virus / physiology
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Amides
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Pyrazines
  • favipiravir