Uncaria tomentosa alkaloidal fraction reduces paracellular permeability, IL-8 and NS1 production on human microvascular endothelial cells infected with dengue virus

Nat Prod Commun. 2013 Nov;8(11):1547-50.


Dengue is the major Arbovirus in the world, annually causing morbidity and death. Severe dengue is associated with changes in the endothelial barrier function due to the production of inflammatory mediators by immune cells and by the endothelium. Dengue virus (DENV) replicates efficiently in human endothelial cells in vitro and elicits immune responses resulting in endothelial permeability. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC.(Rubiaceae), known as cat's claw, has been used in folk medicine for the treatment of a wide-array of symptoms, and several scientific studies reported its antiviral, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Here we infected a human lineage of dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) with DENV-2 and treated it with an alkaloidal fraction from U. tomentosa bark (AFUT). We showed antiviral and immunomodulatory activities of U. tomentosa by determining the NS1 antigen and IL-8 in supernatant of DENV-2 infected HMEC-1. Furthermore, by measurement of transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) we demonstrated, for the first time, that a plant derivative contributed to the reduction of paracellular permeability in DENV-2 infected HMEC-1. We also showed that IL-8 contributed significantly to the induction of permeability. Although further investigations should be conducted before a new drug can be suggested, our in vitro data support evidence that AFUT could be potentially useful in developing a treatment for severe dengue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Cat's Claw / chemistry*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dengue Virus / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / virology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / biosynthesis*
  • Permeability
  • Plant Bark / chemistry
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / biosynthesis*


  • Alkaloids
  • Interleukin-8
  • NS1 protein, Dengue virus type 2
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins