Supercritical fluid extraction of heather (Calluna vulgaris) and evaluation of anti-hepatitis C virus activity of the extracts

Virus Res. 2015 Feb 16:198:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2014.12.022. Epub 2014 Dec 27.


Previous studies using lipid extracts of heather (Calluna vulgaris) leaves showed the presence of high concentrations of ursolic and oleanolic acid. These two compounds have been reported to present antiviral activity against hepatitis C virus (HCV). In this work, the supercritical fluid extraction of heather was studied with the aim of assessing a potential anti-HCV activity of the extracts owing to their triterpenic acid content. Supercritical extraction assays were carried out exploring the pressure range of 20-50 MPa, temperatures of 40-70°C and 0-15% of ethanol cosolvent. The content of oleanolic and ursolic acid in the extracts were determined, and different samples were screened for cellular cytotoxicity and virus inhibition using a HCV cell culture infection system. Antiviral activity was observed in most extracts. In general, superior anti-HCV activity was observed for higher contents of oleanolic and ursolic acids in the extracts.

Keywords: Calluna vulgaris L.; Heather; Hepatitis C virus; Oleanolic acid; Supercritical fluid extraction; Ursolic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / toxicity
  • Calluna / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chromatography, Supercritical Fluid*
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrostatic Pressure
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Oleanolic Acid / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Temperature
  • Triterpenes / analysis
  • Ursolic Acid


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Triterpenes
  • Oleanolic Acid