Ethnopharmacological relevance: Ginger, Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is a common spice and also a widely used medicinal plant in ancient China. Ginger is an ingredient of Ge-Gen-Tang (Kakkon-to; GGT). GGT has been proved to have antiviral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). However, it is unknown whether ginger is effective against HRSV.
Aim of the study: To find a readily available agent to manage HRSV infection, the authors tested the hypothesis that ginger can effectively decrease HRSV-induced plaque formation in respiratory mucosal cell lines.
Materials and methods: Effect of hot water extracts of fresh and dried gingers on HRSV was tested by plaque reduction assay in both human upper (HEp-2) and low (A549) respiratory tract cell lines. Ability of ginger to stimulate anti-viral cytokines was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results: Fresh ginger dose-dependently inhibited HRSV-induced plaque formation in both HEp-2 and A549 cell lines (p<0.0001). In contrast, dried ginger didn't show any dose-dependent inhibition. 300 μg/ml fresh ginger could decrease the plaque counts to 19.7% (A549) and 27.0% (HEp-2) of that of the control group. Fresh ginger was more effective when given before viral inoculation (p<0.0001), particularly on A549 cells. 300 μg/ml fresh ginger could decrease the plaque formation to 12.9% when given before viral inoculation. Fresh ginger dose-dependently inhibited viral attachment (p<0.0001) and internalization (p<0.0001). Fresh ginger of high concentration could stimulate mucosal cells to secrete IFN-β that possibly contributed to counteracting viral infection.
Conclusions: Fresh, but not dried, ginger is effective against HRSV-induced plaque formation on airway epithelium by blocking viral attachment and internalization.
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