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Original article

Topical treatment of cutaneous vaccinia virus infections in immunosuppressed hairless mice with selected antiviral substances

Donald F Smee, Kevin W Bailey, Min-Hui Wong, E Bart Tarbet

Corresponding author name: Donald F Smee
Corresponding author e-mail:

Citation: Antiviral Chemistry & Chemotherapy 2011; 21:201-208
doi: 10.3851/IMP1734

Date accepted: 11 February 2011
Date published online: 14 February 2011


Background: Certain nucleoside, nucleotide and pyrophosphate analogues may be useful for treating severe complications arising as a result of virus dissemination following smallpox (live vaccinia virus) vaccinations, especially in immunocompromised individuals. We used an immunosuppressed hairless mouse model to study the effects of 10 antiviral agents on progressive vaccinia infections.

Methods: Hairless mice were immunosuppressed by treatment with cyclophosphamide (100 mg/kg) every 4 days starting 1 day prior to vaccinia virus (WR strain) infection of wounded skin. Topical treatments with antiviral agents were applied twice a day for 7 days starting 5 days after virus exposure.

Results: Topical 1% cidofovir cream treatment was effective in significantly reducing primary lesion severity and decreasing the number of satellite lesions. Topical 1% cyclic HPMPC and 1% phosphonoacetic acid were not quite as active as cidofovir. Ribavirin (5%) treatment reduced lesion severity and diminished the numbers of satellite lesions, but the mice died significantly sooner than placebos. 2-Amino-7-[(1,3,-dihydroxy-2-propoxy)methyl]purine (compound S2242; 1%) moderately reduced primary lesion sizes. Ineffective treatments included 5% arabinosyladenine, 1% arabinosylcytosine, 1% 5-chloro-arabinosylcytosine, 5% arabinosylhypoxanthine 5-monophosphate and 5% viramidine.

Conclusions: Of the compounds tested, topically applied cidofovir was the most effective treatment of cutaneous vaccinia virus infections in immunosuppressed mice. Topical treatment with cidofovir could be considered as an adjunct to intravenous drug therapy for serious infections.


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