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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Sep 15;348(1):139-44. Epub 2006 Jul 13.

Hemin potentiates the anti-hepatitis C virus activity of the antimalarial drug artemisinin.

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  • 1Rega Institute for Medical Research, Minderbroedersstraat 10, KU Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


We report that the antimalarial drug artemisinin inhibits hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicon replication in a dose-dependent manner in two replicon constructs at concentrations that have no effect on the proliferation of the exponentially growing host cells. The 50% effective concentration (EC(50)) for inhibition of HCV subgenomic replicon replication in Huh 5-2 cells (luciferase assay) by artemisinin was 78+/-21 microM. Hemin, an iron donor, was recently reported to inhibit HCV replicon replication [mediated by inhibition of the viral polymerase (C. Fillebeen, A.M. Rivas-Estilla, M. Bisaillon, P. Ponka, M. Muckenthaler, M.W. Hentze, A.E. Koromilas, K. Pantopoulos, Iron inactivates the RNA polymerase NS5B and suppresses subgenomic replication of hepatitis C virus, J. Biol. Chem. 280 (2005) 9049-9057.)] at a concentration that had no adverse effect on the host cells. When combined, artemisinin and hemin resulted, over a broad concentration range, in a pronounced synergistic antiviral activity. Also at a concentration (2 microM) that alone had no effect on HCV replication, hemin still potentiated the anti-HCV activity of artemisinin.

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