A Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial of Ibuprofen for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in a Bovine Model

Paul Walsh, Nicole Behrens, Francisco R Carvallo Chaigneau, Heather McEligot, Karan Agrawal, John W. Newman, Mark Anderson, Laurel J. Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and hospital admission in infants. An analogous disease occurs in cattle and costs US agriculture a billion dollars a year. RSV causes much of its morbidity indirectly via adverse effects of the host response to the virus. RSV is accompanied by elevated prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) which is followed by neutrophil led inflammation in the lung. Ibuprofen is a prototypical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that decreases PGE2 levels by inhibiting cyclooxygenase. Hypotheses We hypothesized that treatment of RSV with ibuprofen would decrease PGE2 levels, modulate the immune response, decrease clinical illness, and decrease the histopathological lung changes in a bovine model of RSV. We further hypothesized that viral replication would be unaffected. Methods We performed a randomized placebo controlled trial of ibuprofen in 16 outbred Holstein calves that we infected with RSV. We measured clinical scores, cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and endocannabinoid products in plasma and mediastinal lymph nodes and interleukin (Il)-4, Il-13, Il-17 and interferon-ã in mediastinal lymph nodes. RSV shedding was measured daily and nasal Il-6, Il-8 and Il-17 every other day. The calves were necropsied on Day 10 post inoculation and histology performed. Results One calf in the ibuprofen group required euthanasia on Day 8 of infection for respiratory distress. Clinical scores (p<0.01) and weight gain (p = 0.08) seemed better in the ibuprofen group. Ibuprofen decreased cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, and cytochrome P450 products, and increased monoacylglycerols in lung lymph nodes. Ibuprofen modulated the immune response as measured by narrowed range of observed Il-13, Il-17 and IFN-ã gene expression in mediastinal lymph nodes. Lung histology was not different between groups, and viral shedding was increased in calves randomized to ibuprofen. Conclusions Ibuprofen decreased PGE2, modulated the immune response, and improved clinical outcomes. However lung histopathology was not affected and viral shedding was increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0152913
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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