Anti-HSV activity of digitoxin and its possible mechanisms

Chun Ting Su, John T.A. Hsu, Hsing Pang Hsieh, Pi Han Lin, Ting Chi Chen, Chuan Liang Kao, Chun Nan Lee, Sui Yuan Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) can establish latent infection in the nervous system and usually leads to life-threatening diseases in immunocompromised individuals upon reactivation. Treatment with conventional nucleoside analogue such as acyclovir is effective in most cases, but drug-resistance may arise due to prolonged treatment in immunocompromised individuals. In this study, we identified an in-use medication, digitoxin, which actively inhibited HSV-1 replication with a 50% effective concentration (EC50) of 0.05 μM. The 50% cytotoxicity concentration (CC50) of digitoxin is 10.66 μM and the derived selective index is 213. Several structural analogues of digitoxin such as digoxin, ouabain octahydrate and G-strophanthin also showed anti-HSV activity. The inhibitory effects of digitoxin are likely to be introduced at the early stage of HSV-1 replication and the virus release stage. The observation that digitoxin can inhibit acyclovir-resistant viruses further implicates that digitoxin represents a novel drug class with distinct antiviral mechanisms from traditional drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
JournalAntiviral Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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