Azithromycin and glucosamine may amplify the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses in a complementary fashion

Immunol Lett. 2020 Dec:228:83-85. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2020.09.008. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Previous research demonstrates that, in clinically relevant concentrations, azithromycin can boost the ability of RNA viruses to induce type 1 interferon by amplifying the expression and virally-mediated activation of MDA5. O-GlcNAcylation of MAVS, a down-stream target of MDA5, renders it more effective for type 1 interferon induction. High-dose glucosamine administration up-regulates O-GlcNAcylation by increasing the cellular pool of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. Hence, it is proposed that joint administration of azithromycin and high-dose glucosamine, early in the course of RNA virus infections, may interact in a complementary fashion to aid their control by enhancing type 1 interferon induction.

Keywords: Azithromycin; Glucosamine; IRF-3; MAVS; MDA5; Type 1 interferon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism*
  • RNA Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • RNA Virus Infections / immunology
  • RNA Virus Infections / metabolism
  • RNA Virus Infections / virology
  • RNA Viruses / immunology*
  • RNA Viruses / pathogenicity


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon Type I
  • Azithromycin
  • Glucosamine