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N-acetylcysteine lacks universal inhibitory activity against influenza A viruses

Mutien-Marie O Garigliany* and Daniel J Desmecht

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Belgium

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Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 2011, 10:5  doi:10.1186/1477-5751-10-5

Published: 9 May 2011


N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been recently proposed as an adjuvant therapeutic drug for influenza pneumonia in humans. This proposal is based on its ability to restrict influenza virus replication in vitro and to attenuate the severity of the disease in mouse models. Although available studies were made with different viruses (human and avian), published information related to the anti-influenza spectrum of NAC is scarce. In this study, we show that NAC is unable to alter the course of a fatal influenza pneumonia caused by inoculation of a murinized swine H1N1 influenza virus. NAC was indeed able to inhibit the swine virus in vitro but far less than reported for other strains. Therefore, susceptibility of influenza viruses to NAC appears to be strain-dependent, suggesting that it cannot be considered as a universal treatment for influenza pneumonia.