Human rhinovirus (HRV) is the most common viral infectious agent in humans and is the predominant cause of the common cold. There is a need for appropriate vaccines or therapeutic agents to treat HRV infection. In this study, we investigated whether itraconazole (ICZ) can protect cells from HRV-induced cytotoxicity. Replication of HRV1B was reduced by ICZ treatment in the lungs of HRV1B- as compared to vehicle-treated mice. The numbers of immune cells, including granulocytes and monocytes, were reduced in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) by ICZ administration after HRV1B infection, corresponding to decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine levels in BALF. A histological analysis of lung tissue showed that ICZ suppressed inflammation caused by HRV1B infection. Interestingly, pretreatment of mice with ICZ in the form of a nasal spray had potent prophylactic antiviral activity. Cholesterol accumulation in the plasma membrane was observed upon HRV infection; ICZ blocked cholesterol trafficking to the plasma membrane, as well as resulted in its accumulation in subcellular compartments near the nucleus. These findings suggest that ICZ is a potential antiviral agent for the treatment of HRV infection, which can be adopted preventatively as well as therapeutically.
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