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J Microbiol. 2013 Oct;51(5):545-51. doi: 10.1007/s12275-013-3450-9. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

Bioactive activities of natural products against herpesvirus infection.

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College of Pharmacy, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Institute for Microorganisms, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, 702-701, Republic of Korea.

Erratum in

  • J Microbiol. 2013 Dec;51(6):888.


More than 90% of adults have been infected with at least one human herpesvirus, which establish long-term latent infection for the life of the host. While anti-viral drugs exist that limit herpesvirus replication, many of these are ineffective against latent infection. Moreover, drug-resistant strains of herpesvirus emerge following chemotherapeutic treatment. For example, resistance to acyclovir and related nucleoside analogues can occur when mutations arise in either HSV thymidine kinase or DNA polymerases. Thus, there exists an unmet medical need to develop new anti-herpesvirus agents with different mechanisms of action. In this Review, we discuss the promise of anti-herpetic substances derived from natural products including extracts and pure compounds from potential herbal medicines. One example is Glycyrrhizic acid isolated from licorice that shows promising antiviral activity towards human gammaherpesviruses. Secondly, we discuss anti-herpetic mechanisms utilized by several natural products in molecular level. While nucleoside analogues inhibit replicating herpesviruses in lytic replication, some natural products can disrupt the herpesvirus latent infection in the host cell. In addition, natural products can stimulate immune responses against herpesviral infection. These findings suggest that natural products could be one of the best choices for development of new treatments for latent herpesvirus infection, and may provide synergistic anti-viral activity when supplemented with nucleoside analogues. Therefore, it is important to identify which natural products are more efficacious anti-herpetic agents, and to understand the molecular mechanism in detail for further advance in the anti-viral therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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