GABA administration prevents severe illness and death following coronavirus infection in mice

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jide TianDaniel L Kaufman


There is an urgent need for new treatments to prevent and ameliorate severe illness and death induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 patients. The coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)-1 causes pneumonitis in mice which shares many pathological characteristics with human SARS-CoV infection. Previous studies have shown that the amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has anti-inflammatory effects. We tested whether oral treatment with GABA could modulate the MHV-1 induced pneumonitis in susceptible A/J mice. As expected, MHV-1-inoculated control mice became severely ill (as measured by weight loss, clinical score, and the ratio of lung weight to body weight) and >60% of them succumbed to the infection. In contrast, mice that received GABA immediately after MHV-1 inoculation became only mildly ill and all of them recovered. When GABA treatment was initiated after the appearance of illness (3 days post-MHV-1 infection), we again observed that GABA treatment significantly reduced the severity of illness and greatly increased the frequency of recovery. Therefore, the engagement of GABA receptors (GABA-Rs) prevented the MHV-1 infection-induced severe pneumonitis and death in mice. Given that GABA-R agonists, like GABA and ho...Continue Reading

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