Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection is endemic in the Asia-Pacific region. No specific antiviral drug has been available to treat EV71 infection. Melissa officinalis (MO) is a medicinal plant with long history of usage in the European and Middle East. We investigated whether an aqueous solution of concentrated methanolic extract (MOM) possesses antiviral activity. MOM inhibited plaque formation, cytopathic effect, and viral protein synthesis in EV71-infected cells. Using spectral techniques, we identified rosmarinic acid (RA) as a biologically active constituent of MOM. RA reduced viral attachment and entry; cleavage of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4 G (eIF4G); reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation; and translocation of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP A1) from nucleus to cytoplasm. It alleviated EV71-induced hyperphosphorylation of p38 kinase and EPS15. RA is likely to suppress ROS-mediated p38 kinase activation, and such downstream molecular events as hnRNP A1 translocation and EPS15-regulated membrane trafficking in EV71-infected cells. These findings suggest that MO and its constituent RA possess anti-EV71 activities, and may serve as a candidate drug for therapeutic and prophylactic uses against EV71 infection.
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