Anti-influenza virus activity of Ginkgo biloba leaf extracts
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We examined the influence of Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (EGb) on the infectivity of influenza viruses in Madin–Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. Plaque assays demonstrated that multiplication of influenza viruses after adsorption to host cells was not affected in the agarose overlay containing EGb. However, when the viruses were treated with EGb before exposure to cells, their infectivity was markedly reduced. In contrast, the inhibitory effect was not observed when MDCK cells were treated with EGb before infection with influenza viruses. Hemagglutination inhibition assays revealed that EGb interferes with the interaction between influenza viruses and erythrocytes. The inhibitory effect of EGb was observed against influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B viruses. These results suggest that EGb contains an anti-influenza virus substance(s) that directly affects influenza virus particles and disrupts the function of hemagglutinin in adsorption to host cells. In addition to the finding of the anti-influenza virus activity of EGb, our results demonstrated interesting and important insights into the screening system for anti-influenza virus activity. In general, the plaque assay using drug-containing agarose overlays is one of the most reliable methods for detection of antiviral activity. However, our results showed that EGb had no effects either on the number of plaques or on their sizes in the plaque assay. These findings suggest the existence of inhibitory activities against the influenza virus that were overlooked in past studies.
KeywordsAntiviral effect Ginkgo biloba leaf extract Hemagglutination Influenza virus
We thank Katsushi Ogami and Yasuyuki Oku (Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd.) and Dr. Eri Nobusawa (Nagoya City University) for providing us with EGb and influenza B/Lee/40 viruses, respectively. We also thank Flaminia Miyamasu (Medical English Communication Center of Faculty of Medicine) for proofreading of this manuscript. This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (KN) and a Grant for the project of Tsukuba Industrial Liaison and Cooperative Research (KN).