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Reuter, Antje; Horie, Masayuki; Höper, Dirk; Ohnemus, Annette; Narr, Andreas; Rinder, Monika; Beer, Martin; Staeheli, Peter and Rubbenstroth, Dennis (2016): Synergistic antiviral activity of ribavirin and interferon-alpha against parrot bornaviruses in avian cells. In: Journal of General Virology, Vol. 97: pp. 2096-2103

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Avian bornaviruses are the causative agents of proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), a widely distributed and often fatal disease in captive psittacines. Because neither specific prevention measures nor therapies against PDD and bornavirus infections are currently available, new antiviral strategies are required to improve animal health. We show here that the nucleoside analogue ribavirin inhibited bornavirus activity in a polymerase reconstitution assay and reduced viral load in avian cell lines infected with two different parrot bornaviruses. Furthermore, we observed that ribavirin enhanced type I IFN signalling in avian cells. Combined treatment of avian bornavirus-infected cells with ribavirin and recombinant IFN-alpha strongly enhanced the antiviral efficiency compared to either drug alone. The combined use of ribavirin and type I IFN might represent a promising new strategy for therapeutic treatment of captive parrots persistently infected with avian bornaviruses.

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