Severe acute lung injury has few treatment options and a high mortality rate. Upon injury, neutrophils infiltrate the lungs and form neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), damaging the lungs and driving an exacerbated immune response. Unfortunately, no drug preventing NET formation has completed clinical development. Here, we report that disulfiram — an FDA-approved drug for alcohol use disorder — dramatically reduced NETs, increased survival, improved blood oxygenation, and reduced lung edema in a transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) mouse model. We then tested whether disulfiram could confer protection in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection, as NETs are elevated in patients with severe COVID-19. In SARS-CoV-2–infected golden hamsters, disulfiram reduced NETs and perivascular fibrosis in the lungs, and it downregulated innate immune and complement/coagulation pathways, suggesting that it could be beneficial for patients with COVID-19. In conclusion, an existing FDA-approved drug can block NET formation and improve disease course in 2 rodent models of lung injury for which treatment options are limited.
Jose M. Adrover, Lucia Carrau, Juliane Daßler-Plenker, Yaron Bram, Vasuretha Chandar, Sean Houghton, David Redmond, Joseph R. Merrill, Margaret Shevik, Benjamin R. tenOever, Scott K. Lyons, Robert E. Schwartz, Mikala Egeblad