Lab study demonstrates that budesonide directly suppresses the replication of SARS-CoV-2.

Key Messages

This lab study was designed to determine the antiviral effects of budesonide on the replication of three different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Four different concentrations of budesonide were tested on each strain.
Budesonide was found to be effective for suppressing the replication of all three strains of SARS-CoV-2 tested.


Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Peer Reviewed: Yes
Publication Type: Original | Preclinical

Antiviral Effect of Budesonide against SARS-CoV-2

Natalie Heinen, Toni Luise Meister, Mara Klöhn, Eike Steinmann, Daniel Todt, Stephanie Pfaender


Treatment options for COVID-19, a disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, are currently severely limited. Therefore, antiviral drugs that efficiently reduce SARS-CoV-2 replication or alleviate COVID-19 symptoms are urgently needed. Inhaled glucocorticoids are currently being discussed in the context of treatment for COVID-19, partly based on a previous study that reported reduced recovery times in cases of mild COVID-19 after inhalative administration of the glucocorticoid budesonide. Given various reports that describe the potential antiviral activity of glucocorticoids against respiratory viruses, we aimed to analyze a potential antiviral activity of budesonide against SARS-CoV-2 and circulating variants of concern (VOC) B.1.1.7 (alpha) and B.1.351 (beta). We demonstrate a dose-dependent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 that was comparable between all viral variants tested while cell viability remains unaffected. Our results are encouraging as they could indicate a multimodal mode of action of budesonide against SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, which could contribute to an improved clinical performance.