Role of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) in sodium chloride-induced inhibition of virus replication
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There is evidence to suggest hypertonic saline (NaCl solution) could improve symptoms and reduce hospital stay in patients with viral respiratory tract infections (VRTI) such as bronchiolitis and chronic rhinosinusitis. According to current theory the effect of NaCl in VRTI treatment results from its mucolytic effect where saline helps clear the airway secretions by reducing the viscosity and elasticity of mucus gel. However, this mechanism remains controversial and few studies have been done to look at the potential antiviral effect of NaCl. Here we demonstrate that NaCl could inhibit the replication of several DNA and RNA viruses including varicella zoster virus (VZV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). We also found that other sodium salt and chloride salt such as NaH2PO4 and NH4Cl can also inhibit viral replication, suggesting that both sodium and chloride ions contribute to the antiviral effect by NaCl. Furthermore, we show that HeLa cells could produce HOCl as an immune response during viral infection and additional NaCl could increase the level of HOCl production. HOCl has been shown to be produced by neutrophil to neutralize pathogenic infection. Our results suggest that the NaCl has a broad antiviral effect which depends on the promotion of HOCl production in epithelial cells. This research indicates that NaCl could be a safe, effective and cheap antiviral agent for viral infection, especially VRTI and epithelial viral infection. We also reveal that HOCl production is a new antiviral mechanism in epithelial cells and it could be used to regulate viral replication.