Compound in red wine, chocolate prevents smallpox virus cousins from replicating

March 1, 2018, Kansas State University
Poxvirus, which produces a green fluorescent protein, can replicate quickly in human cells unless resveratrol, a compound found naturally in many foods, is present, according to a study by researchers at Kansas State University and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Credit: Kansas State University

The secret to stopping some viruses from making people sick might be hidden in red wine and chocolate—but that doesn't mean having more bonbons and vino is in order, Kansas State University researchers say.

"Resveratrol is a small, natural compound in many plants like grapes, cocoa beans, peanuts and blueberries," said Shuai Cao, postdoctoral researcher studying the effects of resveratrol on viruses. "Our recent study found that high concentrations of resveratrol—higher than anything you may find in food naturally—prevent poxviruses from replicating in human cells."

Cao; Anil Pant, doctoral student in biology Nepal; Zhilong Yang, assistant professor of biology; and their collaborators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published "Suppression of Poxvirus Replication by Resveratrol" in Frontiers in Microbiology.

"Resveratrol can be chemically synthesized or extracted from fruits," Pant said. "Our research may be a steppingstone to using resveratrol as a complementary treatment for viruses during a time of growing concern over drug resistance."

The researchers added resveratrol at varying intensities to human cell cultures infected by vaccinia virus, a cousin to the highly dangerous variola virus that causes smallpox. Used as the vaccine to eradicate smallpox, vaccinia virus provides a good model of how viruses work without the danger, Cao said. The with high levels of resveratrol prevented vaccinia from replicating in the early stages of the viral infection, which stops the virus from spreading.

Credit: Kansas State University
"In order for a poxvirus to infect a host, it has to first enter a cell and make a lot of copies of its genome inside the host cell," Pant said. "Our research has shown that resveratrol inhibits vaccinia virus from making copies of its DNA and genome."

The Kansas State University researchers recorded 's success with vaccinia and collaborated with researchers at the CDC to perform similar experiments with monkeypox, a contagious and to humans that has caused periodic disease outbreaks in Africa. Resveratrol had the same effect with monkeypox, which means that it has a good chance of inhibiting all poxviruses, Cao said.

"There are many poxviruses that infect many species and they share similar mechanisms to replicate their DNA," Cao said. "Resveratrol works to inhibit replication in two of them—the vaccinia virus and monkeypox—so it should be able to inhibit other poxviruses as well."

Vaccinia is not only ideal for labs to study as a model virus, but it also is used to help treat cancer and to fight other viruses, such as its role in the eradication of smallpox around 1980.

"Although smallpox was eradicated, several other poxviruses are still medically relevant," Pant said. "Many of the viruses can cause significant loss—economic or healthwise—but vaccinia can be used for good such as a gene carrier in gene therapy and cancer treatment."

Explore further: Researchers identify novel compound to halt virus replication

More information: Shuai Cao et al. Suppression of Poxvirus Replication by Resveratrol, Frontiers in Microbiology (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02196

Related Stories

Researchers identify novel compound to halt virus replication

January 3, 2012
A team of scientists from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified a novel compound that inhibits viruses from replicating. The findings, which are published online in the Journal of Virology, could lead ...

Poxviruses defeat antiviral defenses by duplicating a gene

August 16, 2012
Scientists have discovered that poxviruses, which are responsible for smallpox and other diseases, can adapt to defeat different host antiviral defenses by quickly and temporarily producing multiple copies of a gene that ...

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

NIH grant funds project to study virus interaction with the immune system and identify poxvirus

September 9, 2015
The National Institutes of Health are funding a Kansas State University research project that is looking at viruses that have the potential to be the next smallpox as well as an effective weapon against cancer.

Resveratrol doesn't improve insulin sensitivity

October 24, 2016
(HealthDay)—Resveratrol supplementation does not improve hepatic or peripheral insulin sensitivity among patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Diabetes Care.

Recommended for you

Dialysis patients at risk of progressive brain injury

December 10, 2018
Kidney dialysis can cause short-term 'cerebral stunning' and may be associated with progressive brain injury in those who receive the treatment for many years. For many patients with kidney failure awaiting a kidney transplant ...

PET scans to optimize tuberculosis meningitis treatments and personalize care, study finds

December 6, 2018
Although relatively rare in the United States, and accounting for fewer than 5 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide, TB of the brain—or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM)—is often deadly, always hard to treat, and a particular ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

Infectivity of different HIV-1 strains may depend on which cell receptors they target

December 6, 2018
Distinct HIV-1 strains may differ in the nature of the CCR5 molecules to which they bind, affecting which cells they can infect and their ability to enter cells, according to a study published December 6 in the open-access ...

Protecting cell powerhouse paves way to better treatment of acute kidney injury

December 6, 2018
For the first time, scientists have described the body's natural mechanism for temporarily protecting the powerhouses of kidney cells when injury or disease means they aren't getting enough blood or oxygen.

New study uncovers why Rift Valley fever is catastrophic to developing fetuses

December 5, 2018
Like Zika, infection with Rift Valley fever virus can go unnoticed during pregnancy, all the while doing irreparable—often lethal—harm to the fetus. The results of a new study, led by researchers at the University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.