Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC) Exhibits Potent, Rapid Activity Against Influenza Viruses in vitro and in vivo

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Daniel L. Popkin
Sarah Zilka
Matthew Dimaano
Hisashi Fujioka
Cristina Rackley
Robert Salata
Alexis Griffith
Pranab K. Mukherjee
Mahmoud A. Ghannoum
Frank Esper



Background: There is a continued need for strategies to prevent influenza. While cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent, has an extensive antimicrobial spectrum, its ability to affect respiratory viruses has not been studied in detail.

Objectives: Here, we evaluate the ability of CPC to disrupt influenza viruses in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: The virucidal activity of CPC was evaluated against susceptible and oseltamivir- resistant strains of influenza viruses. The effective virucidal concentration (EC) of CPC was determined using a hemagglutination assay and tissue culture infective dose assay. The effect of CPC on viral envelope morphology and ultrastructure was evaluated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The ability of influenza virus to develop resistance was evaluated after multiple passaging in sub-inhibitory concentrations of CPC. Finally, the efficacy of CPC in formulation to prevent and treat influenza infection was evaluated using the PR8 murine influenza model.

Results: The virucidal effect of CPC occurred within 10 minutes, with mean EC50 and EC2log ranging between 5 to 20 µg/mL, for most strains of influenza tested regardless of type and resistance to oseltamivir. Examinations using TEM showed that CPC disrupted the integrity of the viral envelope and its morphology. Influenza viruses demonstrated no resistance to CPC despite prolonged exposure. Treated mice exhibited significantly increased survival and maintained body weight compared to untreated mice.

Conclusions: The antimicrobial agent CPC possesses virucidal activity against susceptible and resistant strains of influenza virus by targeting and disrupting the viral envelope. Substantial virucidal activity is seen even at very low concentrations of CPC without development of resistance. Moreover, CPC in formulation reduces influenza-associated mortality and morbidity in vivo.

Keywords: Cetylpyridinium Chloride, CPC, Influenza, Respiratory tract illness, respiratory virus, quaternary ammonium compound


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Author Biography

Frank Esper, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Department of Pediatrics Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital University Hospitals - Case Medical Center

Assistant professor, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Department of Pediatrics


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