The potency of acyclovir can be markedly different in different cell types

Giorgio Brandi, Giuditta F. Schiavano, Emanuela Balestra, Barbara Tavazzi, Carlo Federico Perno, Mauro Magnani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acyclovir is an acyclic guanine analog with a considerable activity against herpes simplex viruses. We studied the antiherpetic activity of acyclovir in macrophages and fibroblast cell lines. Utilising a plaque reduction assay we found that acyclovir potently inhibited the HSV-1 replication in macrophages (EC50 = 0.0025 μM) compared to Vero (EC50 = 8.5 μM) and MRC-5 (EC50 = 3.3 μM) cells. The cytotoxicity of acyclovir was not detected at concentrations ≤ 20 μM, thus the selective index in macrophages was >8000. This marked difference in antiherpetic activity between macrophages and fibroblasts was not observed with Foscarnet and PMEA. We suggest that this potent antiviral effect of acyclovir is mainly due to a proficient phosphorylation of the drug and/or a favourable dGTP/acyclovir triphosphate ratio in macrophage cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1285-1290
Number of pages6
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Aug 3 2001


  • Acyclovir
  • Foscarnet
  • HSV-1 inhibition
  • Macrophages
  • PMEA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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