In this paper we tested how oxysterols influence on fusion process between viral lipid envelope and host cells membranes. For this purpose, the Zika virus was selected, while dendritic cell (DC) and neural cell (NC) membranes were chosen as target membranes. The investigated systems were modeled as multicomponent Langmuir monolayers and characterized using surface manometry and imaging in micro- (Brewster angle microscopy, BAM) and nanoscale (Atomic Force Microscopy, AFM) to monitor local heterogeneity. The fusion process was conducted by mixing viral and host cell membranes devoid and in the presence of oxysterols: 25-hydroxycholesterol (25-OH) and 7β-hydroxycholesterol (7β-OH) as representatives of chain- and ring-oxidized oxysterols, respectively. Our results show that oxysterols hinder the fusion with host cell membranes by modifying their biophysical properties. Moreover, oxysterols applied to an already infected membrane reverse the changes caused by the infection. It could therefore be concluded that oxysterols may display antiviral activity in two ways: they prevent the healthy membrane from viral infection by blocking the fusion process; and protect already infected membrane from pathological changes induced by the virus.
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