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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2003 Sep;98(6):843-8. Epub 2003 Oct 29.

Cytotoxicity and potential antiviral evaluation of violacein produced by Chromobacterium violaceum.

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Laboratório de Virologia Aplicada, Departamento de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brasil.


Natural products are an inexhaustible source of compounds with promising pharmacological activities including antiviral action. Violacein, the major pigment produced by Chromobacterium violaceum, has been shown to have antibiotic, antitumoral and anti-Trypanosoma cruzi activities. The goal of the present work was to evaluate the cytotoxicity of violacein and also its potential antiviral properties. The cytotoxicity of violacein was investigated by three methods: cell morphology evaluation by inverted light microscopy and cell viability tests using the Trypan blue dye exclusion method and the MTT assay. The cytotoxic concentration values which cause destruction in 50% of the monolayer cells (CC50) were different depending on the sensitivity of the method. CC50 values were > or =2.07 +/- 0.08 microM for FRhK-4 cells: > or =2.23 +/- 0.11 microM for Vero cells; > or =2.54 +/- 0.18 microM for MA104 cells; and > or =2.70 +/- 0.20 microM for HEp-2 cells. Violacein showed no cytopathic inhibition of the following viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strain 29-R/acyclovir resistant, hepatitis A virus (strains HM175 and HAF-203) and adenovirus type 5 nor did it show any antiviral activity in the MTT assay. However violacein did show a weak inhibition of viral replication: 1.42 +/- 0.68%, 14.48 +/- 5.06% and 21.47 +/- 3.74% for HSV-1 (strain KOS); 5.96 +/- 2.51%, 8.75 +/- 3.08% and 17.75 +/- 5.19% for HSV-1 (strain ATCC/VR-733); 5.13 +/- 2.38 %, 8.18 +/- 1.11% and 8.51 +/- 1.94% for poliovirus type 2; 8.30 +/- 4.24%; 13.33 +/- 4.66% and 24.27 +/- 2.18% for simian rotavirus SA11, at 0.312, 0.625 and 1.250 mM, respectively, when measured by the MTT assay.

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