Anti-herpes virus activity of the carnivorous botanical, Sarracenia purpurea

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 3;10(1):18953. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-76151-w.


Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), one of the most widely spread human viruses in the Herpesviridae family, causes herpes labialis (cold sores) and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea). Conventional treatment for HSV-1 infection includes pharmaceutical drugs, such as acyclovir and docosonal, which are efficacious but maintain the potential for the development of viral drug resistance. Extracts from the carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, have previously been shown to inhibit the replication of HSV-1. In this study, we demonstrate that S. purpurea extracts can inhibit the replication of HSV-1 by two distinct mechanisms of action. These extracts directly inhibit extracellular virions or viral attachment to the human host cell as well as inhibiting the expression of viral immediate-early, early and late genes when added at various times post-infection. This botanical has previously been shown to inhibit the replication of poxviruses through the inhibition of early viral gene transcription. These results support a broader anti-viral activity of S. purpurea extracts against both pox and herpes viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Herpesviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / drug effects
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / pathogenicity
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sarraceniaceae / chemistry*
  • Vero Cells


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts