Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2017 02 2361(3) pii 10.1128/AAC.02441-16
Combination therapies are standard for management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections; however, no such therapies are established for human hepatitis B virus (HBV). Recently, we identified several promising inhibitors of HBV RNase H (here simply RNase H) activity that have significant activity against viral replication in vitro Here, we investigated the in vitro antiviral efficacy of combinations of two RNase H inhibitors with the current anti-HBV drug nucleoside analog lamivudine, with HAP12, an experimental core protein allosteric modulator, and with each other. Anti-HBV activities of the compounds were tested in a HepG2-derived cell line by monitoring intracellular core particle DNA levels, and cytotoxicity was assessed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS) assay. The antiviral efficiencies of the drug combinations were evaluated using the median-effect equation derived from the mass-action law principle and combination index theorem of Chou and Talalay. We found that combinations of two RNase H inhibitors from different chemical classes were synergistic with lamivudine against HBV DNA synthesis. Significant synergism was also observed for the combination of the two RNase H inhibitors. Combinations of RNase H inhibitors with HAP12 had additive antiviral effects. Enhanced cytotoxicity was not observed in the combination experiments. Because of these synergistic and additive effects, the antiviral activity of combinations of RNase H inhibitors with drugs that act by two different mechanisms and with each other can be achieved by administering the compounds in combination at doses below the respective single drug doses.