Subcutaneous treatment with diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza®) is effective treatment of RSV infection

Bloodworth MH, Rusznak M, Pfister CC, Zhang J, Bastarache L, Calvillo SA, Chappell JD, Boyd KL, Toki S, Newcomb DC, Stier MT, Zhou W, Goleniewska K, Moore ML, Hartert TV2, Niswender KD, Peebles RS Jr. Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor signaling attenuates RSV-induced type 2 responses and immunopathology. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Apr 17,in press. Available from: pii: S0091-6749(18)30561-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.01.053.


The glucagon-like peptide(GLP)-1 receptor agonist liraglutide has the potential to be an effective treatment of RSV bronchiolitis. This is the conclusion from a mouse study from researchers from the Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) and Emory (Atlanta, GA). Mucus production is a hallmark of severe RSV bronchiolitis. Mucus production is mediated by the production of Th2 cytokines, in particular IL-13. To date, no treatment has proven to prevent mucus production during RSV infection. Liraglutide is a registered and commercially available diabetes GLP1-R agonist to suppress glucagon secretion. As it was known to be immunosuppressive, this study aimed to assess the drug’s potential as an RSV therapeutic. Liraglutide treatment decreased mucus production, airway hyperresponsiveness and lung pathology without affecting viral replication. This favorable outcome coincided with decreased IL-13 production and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC) in the airways. The relevance for human RSV infection was supported by a SNP in the THADA gene which is known to define the beta-cell response to GLP-1. This study reveals a novel therapeutic pathway to improve the outcome of patients with RSV infection.

Abstract on Pubmed.