Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34170074
Link to DOI – e1412210.15252/emmm.202114122
EMBO Mol Med 2021 Aug; 13(8): e14122
The devastating pandemic due to SARS-CoV-2 and the emergence of antigenic variants that jeopardize the efficacy of current vaccines create an urgent need for a comprehensive understanding of the pathophysiology of COVID-19, including the contribution of inflammation to disease. It also warrants for the search of immunomodulatory drugs that could improve disease outcome. Here, we show that standard doses of ivermectin (IVM), an anti-parasitic drug with potential immunomodulatory activities through the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, prevent clinical deterioration, reduce olfactory deficit, and limit the inflammation of the upper and lower respiratory tracts in SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters. Whereas it has no effect on viral load in the airways of infected animals, transcriptomic analyses of infected lungs reveal that IVM dampens type I interferon responses and modulates several other inflammatory pathways. In particular, IVM dramatically reduces the Il-6/Il-10 ratio in lung tissue and promotes macrophage M2 polarization, which might account for the more favorable clinical presentation of IVM-treated animals. Altogether, this study supports the use of immunomodulatory drugs such as IVM, to improve the clinical condition of SARS-CoV-2-infected patients.