Ribavirin shows immunomodulatory effects on activated microglia
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Ribavirin (RBV) is synthetic purine nucleoside analogue, licensed as anti-viral drug that displays immunomodulatory actions on various immune cells. Our previous ex vivo studies have demonstrated immunosuppressive effects of RBV on reactive T-lymphocytes in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Here, we examined the effects of RBV on inflammatory response of microglia. RBV potency to down-regulate microglia inflammatory response was assessed by measuring microglia cell body size, and the production of nitric oxide (NO) and pro-and anti-inflammatory cytokines. RBV exerted cytotoxic effects on LPS-stimulated microglia, leaving non-stimulated microglia unaffected. The exposure of activated microglia to RBV led to: decrease in the level of NO as a result of decreased cell number, lower average cell surface, the reduction of membrane ruffling, the suppression of interleukin-6 release and promoted interleukin-10 production. On the other hand, RBV promoted LPS-induced interleukin-1 beta release. Our results imply that RBV is a complex immunomodulator showing both anti-and pro-inflammatory effects on activated microglia.