Chemical composition of Propolis Extract ACF® and activity against herpes simplex virus

Phytomedicine. 2014 Sep 25;21(11):1432-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.04.026. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


Propolis Extract ACF(®) (PPE) is a purified extract manufactured from propolis collected in a Canadian region rich in poplar trees, and it is the active substance of a topical ointment used against herpes labialis (cold sores or fever blisters). Aim of this study was to analyze the chemical composition of PPE in order to understand the plant origin and possible relations between compounds and antiviral activity, and to characterize the antiviral activity of the extract against herpes simplex virus in vitro.

Material and methods: The analysis of the propolis extract samples was conducted by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). The antiviral activity was tested against herpes simplex viruses type 1 and type 2 in MDBK cell cultures by treating the cells with PPE at the time of virus adsorption, and by incubating the virus with the extract before infection (virucidal assay).

Results: Results from the GC-MS analyses revealed a dual plant origin of PPE, with components derived from resins of two different species of poplar. The chemical composition appeared standardized between extract samples and was also reproduced in the sample of topical ointment. The antiviral studies showed that PPE had a pronounced virucidal effect against herpes simplex viruses type 1 and type 2, and also interfered with virus adsorption.

Keywords: Antiviral; Chromatography; Herpes virus; Propolis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Canada
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / drug effects*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / drug effects*
  • Ointments / chemistry
  • Populus / chemistry
  • Propolis / chemistry
  • Propolis / pharmacology*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ointments
  • Propolis