Antiviral effects of ferric ammonium citrate.
Iron is an essential nutrient for cell survival and is crucial for DNA replication, mitochondrial function and erythropoiesis. However, the immunological role of iron in viral infections has not been well defined. Here we found the iron salt ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) inhibited Influenza A virus, HIV virus, Zika virus, and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infections. Of note, both iron ion and citrate ion were required for the antiviral capability of FAC, as other iron salts and citrates did not exhibit viral inhibition. Mechanistically, FAC inhibited viral infection through inducing viral fusion and blocking endosomal viral release. These were further evidenced by the fact that FAC induced liposome aggregation and intracellular vesicle fusion, which was associated with a unique iron-dependent cell death. Our results demonstrate a novel antiviral function of FAC and suggest a therapeutic potential for iron in the control of viral infections.