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Int J Mol Med. 2011 Oct;28(4):595-8. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2011.739. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Inhibition of multiplication of herpes simplex virus by caffeic acid.

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  • 1Division of Virology, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama 641-0011, Japan.


Hot water extracts of coffee grinds and commercial instant coffee solutions have been shown to exhibit marked antiviral and virucidal activities against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Specifically, it has been shown that caffeine and N-methyl-pyridinium formate inhibit the multiplication of HSV-1 in HEp-2 cells. The present study examined the virological properties and the antiviral activity of caffeic acid against HSV-1. Caffeic acid inhibited the multiplication of HSV-1 in vitro, while chlorogenic acid, a caffeic acid ester with quinic acid, did not. These reagents did not have a direct virucidal effect. The one-step growth curve of HSV-1 showed that the addition of caffeic acid at 8 h post infection (h p.i.) did not significantly affect the formation of progeny viruses. An analysis of the influence of the time of caffeic acid addition, revealed that addition at an early time post infection remarkably inhibited the formation of progeny infectious virus in the infected cells, but its addition after 6 h p.i. (i.e., the time of the completion of viral genome replication) did not efficiently inhibit this process. These results indicate that caffeic acid inhibits HSV-1 multiplication mainly before the completion of viral DNA replication, but not thereafter. Although caffeic acid showed some cytotoxicity by prolonged incubation, the observed antiviral activity is likely not the secondary result of the cytotoxic effect of the reagent, because the inhibition of the virus multiplication was observed before appearance of the notable cytotoxicity.

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