Nitazoxanide (Alinia ®, NTZ) and tizoxanide (TIZ), its active circulating metabolite, belong to a class of agents known as thiazolides (TZD) endowed with broad anti-infective activities. TIZ and RM-4848, the active metabolite of RM-5038, were shown to stimulate innate immunity in vitro. Because natural resistance to HIV-1 infection in HIV-exposed seronegative (HESN) individuals is suggested to be associated with strong innate immune responses, we verified whether TIZ and RM-4848 could reduce the in vitro infectiousness of HIV-1. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 20 healthy donors were infected in vitro with HIV-1 BaL in the presence/absence of TIZ or RM4848. HIV-1 p24 were measured at different timepoints. The immunomodulatory abilities of TZD were evaluated by the expression of type I IFN pathway genes and the production of cytokines and chemokines. TZD drastically inhibited in vitro HIV-1 replication (>87%). This was associated with the activation of innate immune responses and with the up-regulation of several interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), including those involved in cholesterol pathway, particularly the cholesterol-25 hydroxylase (CH25H). TZD inhibition of HIV-1 replication in vitro could be due to their ability to stimulate potent and multifaceted antiviral immune responses. These data warrant the exploration of TZD as preventive/therapeutic agent in HIV infection.
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