Assessment of the hepatocyte protective effects of gypenoside and its phosphorylated derivative against DHAV-1 infection on duck embryonic hepatocytes

BMC Vet Res. 2019 May 7;15(1):134. doi: 10.1186/s12917-019-1891-z.


Background: Duck viral hepatitis (DVH) is an acute disease of young ducklings with no effective veterinary drugs for treatment. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine that plays an important role in the treatment of various diseases. Gypenoside (GP), one of the main ingredients of Gynostemma pentaphyllum, was reported with good hepatoprotective effects. However, its low solubility limits its application in the clinics. To improve its solubility and bioactivity, a phosphorylated derivative of gypenoside (pGP) was prepared by the sodium trimetaphosphate-sodium tripolyphosphate (STMP-STPP) method. An infrared spectroscopy method was applied to analyse the structures of GP and pGP. Then, a methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) colorimetric assay was applied to study the hepatocyte protective efficacy of these two drugs against duck hepatitis A virus type 1 (DHAV-1) infection, and qPCR, TUNEL labelling and flow cytometry methods were used to study the relevant hepatocyte protective in vitro.

Results: The infrared spectroscopy detection results showed that the phosphorylation modification of GP was successful. The MTT colorimetric assay results showed that both GP and pGP possessed good hepatocyte protective efficacy in vitro, and pGP performed better than GP when the drug was added before or after virus inoculation. Furthermore, the qPCR results revealed that both drugs could effectively inhibit the adsorption (when adding GP and pGP pre-virus inoculation), replication and release of DHAV-1, and the viral inhibition rate of pGP was greater than that of GP. The subsequent TUNEL labelling and flow cytometry assays showed that both GP and pGP could significantly inhibit duck embryo hepatocyte apoptosis induced by DHAV-1, and the inhibition effect of pGP was much stronger than that of GP.

Conclusions: GP exerts good hepatocyte protective efficacy not only by inhibiting the proliferation of DHAV-1 but also by inhibiting duck embryonic hepatocyte apoptosis induced by DHAV-1, and phosphorylation modification significantly improves the antiviral and the anti-apoptotic effects of GP. Therefore, pGP has the potential to be developed into a novel drug against DHAV-1 infection.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Duck hepatitis a virus type 1; Gypenoside; Hepatocyte protective effect; Phosphorylation modification.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ducks
  • Gynostemma / chemistry
  • Hepatitis Virus, Duck / drug effects*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Animal / drug therapy
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • gypenoside