Objectives: Because red ginseng and vitamin C have immunomodulatory function and anti-viral effect, we investigated whether red ginseng and vitamin C synergistically regulate immune cell function and suppress viral infection.
Methods: Red ginseng and vitamin C were treated to human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) or sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)-infected BCBL-1, and administrated to Gulo(-/-) mice, which are incapable of synthesizing vitamin C, with or without influenza A virus/H1N1 infection.
Key findings: Red ginseng and vitamin C increased the expression of CD25 and CD69 of PBMCs and natural killer (NK) cells. Co-treatment of them decreased cell viability and lytic gene expression in BCBL-1. In Gulo(-/-) mice, red ginseng and vitamin C increased the expression of NKp46, a natural cytotoxic receptor of NK cells and interferon (IFN)-γ production. Influenza infection decreased the survival rate, and increased inflammation and viral plaque accumulation in the lungs of vitamin C-depleted Gulo(-/-) mice, which were remarkably reduced by red ginseng and vitamin C supplementation.
Conclusions: Administration of red ginseng and vitamin C enhanced the activation of immune cells like T and NK cells, and repressed the progress of viral lytic cycle. It also reduced lung inflammation caused by viral infection, which consequently increased the survival rate.
Keywords: H1N1; influenza A virus; red ginseng; vitamin C.
© 2016 Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.