Screening compounds of Chinese medicinal herbs anti-Marek's disease virus

Pharm Biol. 2014 Jul;52(7):841-7. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2013.871639. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


Context: Marek's disease (MD) seriously threatens the world poultry industry and has resulted in great economic losses. Chinese medicinal herbs are a rich source for lead compounds and drug candidates for antiviral treatments.

Objective: To investigate the anti-MDV activity and mechanism of 20 compounds extracted from Chinese medicinal herbs.

Materials and methods: Antiviral assay, time of addition experiments, and virucidal assay were performed on chicken embryo fibroblast cells. The 50% cytotoxic concentration and 50% effective concentration were determined and, accordingly, selectivity index and inhibition ratio were calculated.

Results: Antiviral assay showed dipotassium glycyrrhizinate (DG) and sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate (STS) exhibited significantly inhibitory activity against MDV in a dose-dependent manner. EC50 of DG and STS were 893.5 ± 36.99 µg/mL and 54.82 ± 2.99 µg/mL, and selective index (SI) were >3.36 and >9.12, respectively. Time of addition experiment and virucidal assay demonstrated DG inhibited viral replication in the full replication cycle and inactivated MDV particles in non-time-dependent manner, but STS interfered with the early stage of MDV replication and inactivated MDV particles in a time-dependent manner. Moreover, both DG and STS promoted apoptosis of cells infected by MDV.

Discussion and conclusion: DG and STS have great potential for developing new anti-MDV drugs for clinic application.

Keywords: Antiviral; MDV; apoptosis; dipotassium glycyrrhizinate; sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / chemistry*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / virology
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / isolation & purification
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Gallid / drug effects*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Gallid / physiology
  • Phenanthrenes / isolation & purification
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacology*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Phenanthrenes
  • Solvents
  • tanshinone II A sodium sulfonate
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid