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Antiviral Res. 2007 Sep;75(3):242-9. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Chemical properties, mode of action, and in vivo anti-herpes activities of a lignin-carbohydrate complex from Prunella vulgaris.

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Department of Biology and Institute of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, PR China.


The chemical nature, the mode of action, and the in vitro and in vivo anti-HSV activities of the polysaccharide from Prunella vulgaris were characterized. The polysaccharide was isolated by ethanol precipitation, dialysis, CTAB precipitation, and gel exclusion chromatography. The isolated compound (PPS-2b) was a lignin-carbohydrate complex with a molecular weight of 8500. The carbohydrate moiety was composed of glucose, galactose, mannose, galacturonic acid, rhamnose, xylose, and arabinose with glucose as the major sugar. In plaque reduction assay, PPS-2b showed activities against HSV-1 and HSV-2. The anti-HSV activity could be abolished by periodate oxidation. Mechanism studies showed that PPS-2b inactivated HSV-1 directly, blocked HSV-1 binding to Vero cells, and inhibited HSV-1 penetration into Vero cells. A similar inhibition was observed with a gC-deficient strain of HSV-1. The in vivo activities of a Prunella cream formulated with a semi-purified fraction was assessed in a HSV-1 skin lesion model in guinea pigs and a HSV-2 genital infection model in BALB/c mice. Guinea pigs that received the Prunella cream treatment showed a significant reduction (P<0.01) in skin lesions. Mice that received the Prunella cream treatment showed a significant reduction (P<0.01) in mortality. In conclusion, the anti-HSV compound from P. vulgaris is a lignin-polysaccharide complex with potent activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2. Its mode of action appears to be inhibiting viral binding and penetration into host cells.

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