Immunomodulating and antiviral activities of Uncaria tomentosa on human monocytes infected with Dengue Virus-2

Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Mar;8(3):468-76. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2007.11.010. Epub 2007 Dec 26.


Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC., a large woody vine native to the Amazon and Central American rainforests has been used medicinally by indigenous peoples since ancient times and has scientifically proven immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic and antioxidant activities. Several inflammatory mediators that are implicated in vascular permeability and shock are produced after Dengue Virus (DENV) infection by monocytes, the primary targets for virus replication. Here we assessed the immunoregulatory and antiviral activities from U. tomentosa-derived samples, which were tested in an in vitro DENV infection model. DENV-2 infected human monocytes were incubated with U. tomentosa hydro-alcoholic extract or either its pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid-enriched or non-alkaloid fractions. The antiviral activity was determined by viral antigen (DENV-Ag) detection in monocytes by flow cytometry. Our results demonstrated an in vitro inhibitory activity by both extract and alkaloidal fraction, reducing DENV-Ag+ cell rates in treated monocytes. A multiple microbead immunoassay was applied for cytokine determination (TNF-alpha, IFN-alpha, IL-6 and IL-10) in infected monocyte culture supernatants. The alkaloidal fraction induced a strong immunomodulation: TNF-alpha and IFN-alpha levels were significantly decreased and there was a tendency towards IL-10 modulation. We conclude that the alkaloidal fraction was the most effective in reducing monocyte infection rates and cytokine levels. The antiviral and immunomodulating in vitro effects from U. tomentosa pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids displayed novel properties regarding therapeutic procedures in Dengue Fever and might be further investigated as a promising candidate for clinical application.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cat's Claw* / chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dengue Virus / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / virology


  • Alkaloids
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors