Inhibition of sandfly fever Sicilian virus (Phlebovirus) replication in vitro by antiviral compounds

Res Virol. Sep-Oct 1997;148(5):353-65. doi: 10.1016/s0923-2516(97)89132-7.


Sandfly fever Sicilian virus (SFSV) was used in our laboratory to screen antiviral substances active toward viruses of the Bunyaviridae family. Antiviral activity was estimated by the reduction of the cytopathic effect of SFSV on infected Vero cells. Cytotoxicity was evaluated by determining the inhibition of Trypan blue exclusion. The specificity of action of each tested compound was estimated by the selectivity index (CD50/ED50). Selectivity indices of human recombinant interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) (Roferon and Introna), iota-, kappa- and lambda- carrageenans, fucoidan and 6-azauridine were much higher than that of ribavirin, the only antiviral substance which has been previously investigated for its inhibitory effects on Phlebovirus infections. Other compounds showed significant antiviral activity: glycyrrhizin, suramin sodium, dextran sulphate and pentosan polysulphate. All these compounds caused a concentration-dependent reduction in the virus yield. Ribavirin, 6-azauridine and IFN alpha have been shown to inhibit a late step of the virus replicative cycle, whereas glycyrrhizin and suramin sodium were active at an early step and the sulphated polysaccharides inhibited adsorption of SFSV on the cells. The antiviral compounds selected in this study as specific inhibitors of in vitro replication of SFSV are promising candidates for the chemotherapy of haemorrhagic fevers caused by viruses of the Bunyaviridae family. The combination of IFN alpha and ribavirin, which showed a synergistic antiviral effect, should be evaluated for the treatment of these infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / toxicity
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / pharmacology
  • Interferon Type I / toxicity
  • Phlebovirus / drug effects*
  • Phlebovirus / growth & development
  • Phlebovirus / physiology
  • Psychodidae / virology
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin / pharmacology
  • Ribavirin / toxicity
  • Time Factors
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon Type I
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin