The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), needs better treatment options both at antiviral and anti-inflammatory levels. It has been demonstrated that the aminothiol cysteamine, an already human applied drug, and its disulfide product of oxidation, cystamine, have anti-infective properties targeting viruses, bacteria, and parasites. To determine whether these compounds exert antiviral effects against SARS-CoV-2, we used different in vitro viral infected cell-based assays. Moreover, since cysteamine has also immune-modulatory activity, we investigated its ability to modulate SARS-CoV-2-specific immune response in vitro in blood samples from COVID-19 patients. We found that cysteamine and cystamine decreased SARS-CoV-2-induced cytopathic effects (CPE) in Vero E6 cells. Interestingly, the antiviral action was independent of the treatment time respect to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Moreover, cysteamine and cystamine significantly decreased viral production in Vero E6 and Calu-3 cells. Finally, cysteamine and cystamine have an antiinflammatory effect, as they significantly decrease the SARS-CoV-2 specific IFN-γ production in vitro in blood samples from COVID-19 patients. Overall, our findings suggest that cysteamine and cystamine exert direct antiviral actions against SARS-CoV-2 and have in vitro immunomodulatory effects, thus providing a rational to test these compounds as a novel therapy for COVID-19.
- Drug repurposing
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