Eur J Pharmacol. 2021 May 17:174191. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2021.174191. Online ahead of print.
Azithromycin, a member of the macrolide family of antibiotics, is commonly used to treat respiratory bacterial infections. Nevertheless, multiple pharmacological effects of the drug have been revealed in several investigations. Conceivably, the immunomodulatory properties of azithromycin are among its critical features, leading to its application in treating inflammatory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, azithromycin may directly inhibit viral load as well as its replication, or it could demonstrate indirect inhibitory impacts that might be associated with the expression of antiviral genes. Currently, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an extra urgent issue affecting the entire world, and it is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is associated with hyper inflammation due to cytokine release, is among the leading causes of death in COVID-19 patients with critical conditions. The present paper aims to review the immunomodulatory and antiviral properties of azithromycin as well as its potential clinical applications in the management of COVID-19 patients.