Influenza virus continues to emerge and re-emerge, posing new threats for humans. Here we tested various Korean medicinal plant extracts for potential antiviral activity against influenza viruses. Among them, an extract of Agrimonia pilosa was shown to be highly effective against all three subtypes of human influenza viruses including H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A subtypes and influenza B virus. The EC50 value against influenza A virus, as tested by the plaque reduction assay on MDCK cells, was 14-23 μg/ml. The extract also exhibited a virucidal effect at a concentration of 160-570 ng/ml against influenzaAandBviruseswhen the viruseswere treatedwith the extract prior to plaque assay. Inaddition, when tested in embryonated chicken eggs the extract exhibited a strong inhibitory effect in ovo on the H9N2 avian influenza virus at a concentration of 280 ng/ml. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis data showed that the extract, to some degree, suppressed viral RNA synthesis in MDCK cells. HI and inhibition of neuraminidase were observed only at high concentrations of the extract. And yet, the extract's antiviral activity required direct contact between it and the virus, suggesting that its antiviral action is mediated by the viral membrane, but does not involve the two major surface antigens,HAandNA, of the virus. The broad-spectrum antiviral activity of Agrimonia pilosa extract on various subtypes of influenza viruses merits further investigation as it may provide a means of managing avian influenza infections in poultry farms and potential avian-human transmission.
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