Inhibition of an aquatic rhabdovirus demonstrates promise of a broadspectrum antiviral for use in aquaculture

Bethany F. Balmer, Rachel L. Powers, Ting Hu Zhang, Jihye Lee, Frederic Vigant, Benhur Lee, Michael E. Jung, Maureen K. Purcell, Kevin Snekvik, Hector C. Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Many enveloped viruses cause devastating disease in aquaculture, resulting in significant economic impact. LJ001 is a broad-spectrum antiviral compound that inhibits enveloped virus infections by specifically targeting phospholipids in the lipid bilayer via the production of singlet oxygen (1O2). This stabilizes positive curvature and decreases membrane fluidity, which inhibits virus-cell membrane fusion during viral entry. Based on data from previous mammalian studies and the requirement of light for the activation of LJ001, we hypothesized that LJ001 may be useful as a preventative and/or therapeutic agent for infections by enveloped viruses in aquaculture. Here, we report that LJ001 was more stable with a prolonged inhibitory half-life at relevant aquaculture temperatures (15°C), than in mammalian studies at 37°C. When LJ001 was preincubated with our model virus, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), infectivity was significantly inhibited in vitro (using the epithelioma papulosum cyprini [EPC] fish cell line) and in vivo (using rainbow trout fry) in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. While horizontal transmission of IHNV in a static cohabitation challenge model was reduced by LJ001, transmission was not completely blocked at established antiviral doses. Therefore, LJ001 may be best suited as a therapeutic for aquaculture settings that include viral infections with lower virus-shedding rates than IHNV or where higher viral titers are required to initiate infection of naive fish. Importantly, our data also suggest that LJ001-inactivated IHNV elicited an innate immune response in the rainbow trout host, making LJ001 potentially useful for future vaccination approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02181-16
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Antiviral
  • Aquaculture
  • Aquatic virus
  • Broad spectrum
  • Enveloped
  • Membrane fusion
  • Rhabdovirus
  • Virus


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