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PLoS Pathog. 2006 Jul;2(7):e69.

Carrageenan is a potent inhibitor of papillomavirus infection.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

Certain sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) types are causally associated with the development of cervical cancer. Our recent development of high-titer HPV pseudoviruses has made it possible to perform high-throughput in vitro screens to identify HPV infection inhibitors. Comparison of a variety of compounds revealed that carrageenan, a type of sulfated polysaccharide extracted from red algae, is an extremely potent infection inhibitor for a broad range of sexually transmitted HPVs. Although carrageenan can inhibit herpes simplex viruses and some strains of HIV in vitro, genital HPVs are about a thousand-fold more susceptible, with 50% inhibitory doses in the low ng/ml range. Carrageenan acts primarily by preventing the binding of HPV virions to cells. This finding is consistent with the fact that carrageenan resembles heparan sulfate, an HPV cell-attachment factor. However, carrageenan is three orders of magnitude more potent than heparin, a form of cell-free heparan sulfate that has been regarded as a highly effective model HPV inhibitor. Carrageenan can also block HPV infection through a second, postattachment heparan sulfate-independent effect. Carrageenan is in widespread commercial use as a thickener in a variety of cosmetic and food products, ranging from sexual lubricants to infant feeding formulas. Some of these products block HPV infectivity in vitro, even when diluted a million-fold. Clinical trials are needed to determine whether carrageenan-based products are effective as topical microbicides against genital HPVs.

PMID:
16839203
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1500806
Free PMC Article

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