A silkworm baculovirus model for assessing the therapeutic effects of antiviral compounds: characterization and application to the isolation of antivirals from traditional medicines

J Gen Virol. 2008 Jan;89(Pt 1):188-194. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.83208-0.


Ganciclovir, foscarnet, vidarabine and ribavirin, which are used to treat viral infections in humans, inhibited the proliferation of a baculovirus (Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus) in BmN4 cells, a cultured silkworm cell line. These antiviral agents inhibited the proliferation of baculovirus in silkworm body fluid and had therapeutic effects. Using the silkworm infection model, the antiviral activity of Kampo medicines was screened and it was found that cinnamon bark, a component of the traditional Japanese medicine Mao-to, had a therapeutic effect. Based on the therapeutic activity, the antiviral substance was purified. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the purified fraction revealed that the antiviral activity was due to cinnzeylanine, which has previously been isolated from Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Cinnzeylanine inhibits the proliferation of herpes simplex virus type 1 in Vero cells. These results suggest that the silkworm-baculovirus infection model is useful for screening antiviral agents that are effective for treating humans infected with DNA viruses.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Baculoviridae / drug effects*
  • Baculoviridae / growth & development*
  • Baculoviridae / isolation & purification
  • Bombyx / virology*
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Ovum / virology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Viral Plaque Assay


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts