Influenza A virus (IAV) infection represents a global health challenge. Excavating antiviral active components from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a promising anti-IAV strategy. Our previous studies have demonstrated that 14-deoxy-11,12-didehydroandrographolide (DAP), a major ingredient of a TCM herb called Andrographis paniculata, shows anti-IAV activity that is mainly effective against A/chicken/Hubei/327/2004 (H5N1), A/duck/Hubei/XN/2007 (H5N1), and A/PR/8/34 (H1N1) in vitro and in vivo. However, the underlying anti-IAV molecular mechanism of DAP needs further investigation. In the present work, we found that DAP can significantly inhibit the apoptosis of human lung epithelial (A549) cells infected with A/chicken/Hubei/327/2004 (H5N1). After DAP treatment, the protein expression levels of cleaved PARP, cleaved caspase-3, and cleaved caspase-9, and the activities of caspase-3 and caspase-9 in H5N1-infected A549 cells were all obviously downregulated. However, DAP had no inhibitory effect on caspase-8 activity and cleaved caspase-8 production. Meanwhile, the efficacy of DAP in reducing the apoptotic cells was lost after using the inhibitor of caspase-3 or caspase-9 but remained intact after the caspase-8 inhibitor treatment. Moreover, DAP efficiently attenuated the dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential, suppressed cytochrome c release from the mitochondria to the cytosol, and decreased the protein expression ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 in the mitochondrial fraction. Furthermore, the silencing of caspase-9 reduced the yield of nucleoprotein (NP) and disabled the inhibitory ability of DAP in NP production in A549 cells. Overall results suggest that DAP exerts its antiviral effects by inhibiting H5N1-induced apoptosis on the caspase-9-dependent intrinsic/mitochondrial pathway, which may be one of the anti-H5N1 mechanisms of DAP.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.

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