Antiviral activity of Arthrospira-derived spirulan-like substances

Antiviral Res. 2006 Dec;72(3):197-206. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2006.06.004. Epub 2006 Jun 30.


Natural substances offer interesting pharmacological perspectives for antiviral drug development in regard to broad-spectrum antiviral properties and novel modes of action. In this study we analyzed polysaccharide fractions isolated from Arthrospira platensis. Fractions containing intracellular or extracellular spirulan-like molecules showed a pronounced antiviral activity in the absence of cytotoxic effects. Using specific assays for the quantification of viral replication in vitro, these substances exhibited strong inhibition of human cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus type 1, human herpesvirus type 6 and human immunodeficiency virus type 1, while only weak or no inhibition was noted for Epstein-Barr virus and influenza A virus. Considering herpesviruses, antiviral effects were most pronounced when the cells were preincubated with the substances prior to the addition of virus, indicating that antiviral action may be primarily targeted to virus entry. However, an inspection of the inhibition of human cytomegalovirus protein synthesis clearly demonstrated that intracellular steps also contributed to the antiviral effect. In the case of human immunodeficiency virus, inhibition occurred at a stage later than viral entry. Thus, spirulan-like substances possess a marked antiherpesviral and anti-HIVactivity based on different modes of action. Further development of these substances might yield novel candidates of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / toxicity
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / virology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyanobacteria / chemistry*
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Herpesviridae / drug effects*
  • Herpesviridae / physiology
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / drug effects*
  • Influenza A virus / physiology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Polysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides / toxicity
  • Viral Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Polysaccharides
  • Viral Proteins
  • spirulan