Potent suppression of HIV-1 cell attachment by Kudzu root extract

Retrovirology. 2018 Sep 20;15(1):64. doi: 10.1186/s12977-018-0446-x.


There is a constant need to improve antiretrovirals against HIV since therapy is limited by cost, side effects and the emergence of drug resistance. Kudzu is a climbing vine from which the root extract (Pueraria lobata), rich in isoflavones and saponins, has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of purposes, from weight loss to alcoholism prevention. Here we show that Kudzu root extract significantly inhibits HIV-1 entry into cell lines, primary human CD4+T lymphocytes and macrophages, without cell-associated toxicity. Specifically, Kudzu inhibits the initial attachment of the viral particle to the cell surface, a mechanism that depends on the envelope glycoprotein gp120 but is independent from the HIV-1 cell receptor CD4 and co-receptors CXCR4/CCR5. This activity seems selective to lentiviruses since Kudzu inhibits HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus, but does not interfere with Hepatitis C, Influenza, Zika Brazil and adenovirus infection. Importantly, depending on the dose, Kudzu can act synergistically or additively with the current antiretroviral cocktails against HIV-1 and can block viruses resistant to the fusion inhibitor Enfuvirtide. Together our results highlight Kudzu's root extract value as a supplement to current antiretroviral therapy against HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Synergism
  • Enfuvirtide
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / metabolism
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry*
  • Pueraria*
  • Virus Attachment / drug effects*
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Plant Extracts
  • Enfuvirtide