Background: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) exhibits a wide range of biological functions including antiviral activity. In this work, we present in vitro anti-adenovirus (AdV) activity of seven DHEA and twelve epiandrosterone (EA) analogues. Methods: The cytotoxic effect of the compounds was determined by the MTT assay and the antiviral activity by a virus yield inhibition assay. The mode of antiviral activity was examined using time-of-addition experiments, adsorption and internalization assays and Western blot analysis. Results: EA, DHEA, and two synthetic derivatives inhibit virus replication with selectivity indices ranging between 42 and 83. Virus adsorption and internalization are not the target of the inhibitory action; meanwhile, AdV protein synthesis was diminished in the presence of DHEA. Conclusions: DHEA and some synthetic derivatives present antiviral activity similar to cidofovir, which was used as reference drug. These steroidal compounds adversely affect virus protein synthesis and viral mature particle formation.

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