Infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) is extremely common, but the virus only becomes pathogenic when the immune system is weakened, by, for example, HIV or anti-rejection transplant immunosupressors. In February 26 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hua Zhu and colleagues from New Jersey Medical School, USA, show that cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors could be useful in preventing CMV activation because they block viral replication.

Zhu et al. examined cultures of virus-infected human fibroblasts and found that both specific and nonspecific (indomethacin) COX-2 inhibitors reduced not just prostaglandin E2 levels but also the yield of CMV in human by a factor of >100. The yield of infectious virus was restored by the addition of prostaglandin E2 together with the inhibitory drug (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2002, 10.1073/pnas.052713799).

Blocking prostaglandin E2 seems to limit the production of immediate-early 2 protein — a critical...

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