Natural Formulations Based on Olea europaea L. Fruit Extract for the Topical Treatment of HSV-1 Infections

Molecules. 2022 Jul 2;27(13):4273. doi: 10.3390/molecules27134273.


In the present study, a hydroxytyrosol-rich Olea europaea L. fruit extract (OFE) was added to three thoroughly green formulations-hydrogel, oleogel, and cream-in order to evaluate their antiviral activity against HSV-1. The extract was characterized by different analytical techniques, i.e., FT-IR, XPS, and TGA. HPLC analyses were carried out to monitor the content and release of hydroxytyrosol in the prepared formulations. The total polyphenol content and antioxidant activity were investigated through Folin-Ciocâlteu's reagent, DPPH, and ABTS assays. The ability of the three formulations to convey active principles to the skin was evaluated using a Franz cell, showing that the number of permeated polyphenols in the hydrogel (272.1 ± 1.8 GAE/g) was significantly higher than those in the oleogel and cream (174 ± 10 and 179.6 ± 2 GAE/g, respectively), even if a negligible amount of hydroxytyrosol crossed the membrane for all the formulations. The cell viability assay indicated that the OFE and the three formulations were not toxic to cultured Vero cells. The antiviral activity tests highlighted that the OFE had a strong inhibitory effect against HSV-1 with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) at 25 µg/mL, interfering directly with the viral particles. Among the three formulations, the hydrogel exhibited the highest antiviral activity also against the acyclovir-resistant strain.

Keywords: Franz cell; HSV-1; acyclovir-resistant strain; antiviral; olive fruit extract; polyphenol; topical formulations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / analysis
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human*
  • Hydrogels / pharmacology
  • Olea* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / analysis
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Vero Cells


  • Antioxidants
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hydrogels
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols

Grants and funding

This research received funding from PRIN 2017 “Natural and pharmacological inhibition of the early phase of viral replication (VirSudNet)” N° 2017M8R7N9.