Dose-Response Effects of 7-Dehydrocholesterol Reductase Inhibitors on Sterol Profiles and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Replication

Zeljka Korade, Keri A. Tallman, Hye Young H. Kim, Marta Balog, Thiago C. Genaro-Mattos, Aryamav Pattnaik, Károly Mirnics, Asit K Pattnaik, Ned A. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cholesterol is ubiquitous in cells; it plays a critical role in membrane structure and transport as well as in intracellular trafficking processes. There are suggestions that cholesterol metabolism is linked to innate immunity with inhibitors of DHCR7, the last enzyme in the cholesterol pathway, suggested to have potential as viral therapeutics nearly a decade ago. In fact, there are a number of highly prescribed pharmaceuticals that are off-target inhibitors of DHCR7, causing increased cellular levels of 7-dehydrodesmosterol (7-DHD) and 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC). We report here dose-response studies of six such inhibitors on late-stage cholesterol biosynthesis in Neuro2a cells as well as their effect on infection of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Four of the test compounds are FDA-approved drugs (cariprazine, trazodone, metoprolol, and tamoxifen), one (ifenprodil) has been the object of a recent Phase 2b COVID trial, and one (AY9944) is an experimental compound that has seen extensive use as a DHCR7 inhibitor. The three FDA-approved drugs inhibit replication of a GFP-tagged VSV with efficacies that mirror their effect on DHCR7. Ifenprodil and AY9944 have complex inhibitory profiles, acting on both DHCR7 and DHCR14, while tamoxifen does not inhibit DHCR7 and is toxic to Neuro2a at concentrations where it inhibits the Δ7-Δ8 isomerase of the cholesterol pathway. VSV itself affects the sterol profile in Neuro2a cells, showing a dose-response increase of dehydrolathosterol and lathosterol, the substrates for DHCR7, with a corresponding decrease in desmosterol and cholesterol. 7-DHD and 7-DHC are orders of magnitude more vulnerable to free radical chain oxidation than other sterols as well as polyunsaturated fatty esters, and the effect of these sterols on viral infection is likely a reflection of this fact of Nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1096
Number of pages11
JournalACS Pharmacology and Translational Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 11 2022


  • 7-dehydrocholesterol
  • 7-dehydrodesmosterol
  • DHCR7
  • oxidative stress
  • vesicular stomatitis virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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