Clinically approved PARP inhibitors (PARPi) have a mild adverse effect profile and are well tolerated as continuous daily oral therapy. We review the evidence that justifies the repurposing of PARPi to block the proliferation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and combat the life-threatening sequelae of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by several mechanisms. PARPi can effectively decrease IL-6, IL-1 and TNF-α levels (key interleukins in SARS-CoV-2-induced cytokine storm) and can alleviate subsequent lung fibrosis, as demonstrated in murine experiments and clinical trials. PARPi can tune macrophages towards a tolerogenic phenotype. PARPi may also counteract SARS-CoV-2-induced and inflammation-induced cell death and support cell survival. PARPi is effective in animal models of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), asthma and ventilator-induced lung injury. PARPi may potentiate the effectiveness of tocilizumab, anakinra, sarilumab, adalimumab, canakinumab or siltuximab therapy. The evidence suggests that PARPi would benefit COVID-19 patients and trials should be undertaken.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. © 2020 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Pharmacological Society

Cite as

Curtin, N., Bányai, K., Thaventhiran, J., Le Quesne, J., Helyes, Z. & Bai, P. 2020, 'Repositioning PARP inhibitors for SARS‐CoV‐2 infection(COVID‐19); a new multi‐pronged therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome?', British Journal of Pharmacology, 177(16), pp. 3635-3645. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.15137

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 03 September 2022
Was this page helpful?