The common cold is one of the most frequent human inflammatory diseases caused by viruses and can facilitate bacterial superinfections, resulting in sinusitis or pneumonia. The active ingredient of the drug Soledum, 1,8-cineole, is commonly applied for treating inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract. However, the potential for 1,8-cineole to treat primary viral infections of the respiratory tract remains unclear. In the present study, we demonstrate for the first time that 1,8-cineole potentiates poly(I:C)-induced activity of the antiviral transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), while simultaneously reducing proinflammatory nuclear factor (NF)-κB activity in human cell lines, inferior turbinate stem cells (ITSCs) and in ex vivo cultivated human nasal mucosa. Co-treatment of cell lines with poly(I:C) and 1,8-cineole resulted in significantly increased IRF3 reporter gene activity compared with poly(I:C) alone, whereas NF-κB activity was reduced. Accordingly, 1,8-cineole- and poly(I:C) treatment led to increased nuclear translocation of IRF3 in ITSCs and a human ex vivo model of rhinosinusitis compared with the poly(I:C) treatment approach. Nuclear translocation of IRF3 was significantly increased in ITSCs and slice cultures treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and 1,8-cineole compared with the LPS-treated cells mimicking bacterial infection. Our findings strongly suggest that 1,8-cineole potentiates the antiviral activity of IRF3 in addition to its inhibitory effect on proinflammatory NF-κB signalling, and may thus broaden its field of application.

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