More than 20% of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients receiving interferon-alpha (IFN-α)-based anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapy experienced significant depression, which was relieved by treatment with fluoxetine. However, whether and how fluoxetine affected directly the anti-HCV therapy remained unclear. Here, we demonstrated that fluoxetine inhibited HCV infection and blocked the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid accumulation in Huh7.5 cells. Fluoxetine facilitated the IFN-α-mediated antiviral actions via activations of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-1 and c-Jun amino-terminal kinases (JNK). Alternatively, fluoxetine elevated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) response element activity under HCV infection. The inhibitory effects of fluoxetine on HCV infection and lipid accumulation, but not production of ROS, were partially reversed by the PPAR-β, -γ, and JNK antagonists. Furthermore, fluoxetine intervention to the IFN-α-2b regimen facilitated to reduce HCV titer and alanine transaminase level for CHC patients. Therefore, fluoxetine intervention to the IFN-α-2b regimen improved the efficacy of anti-HCV treatment, which might be related to blockades of ROS generation and lipid accumulation and activation of host antiviral JNK/STAT-1 and PPARβ/γ signals.
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