When the Kampo medicine, Hochuekkito (Hochu), was administered to normal mice for 2 weeks, influenza virus titer was reduced. The mechanism of action of Hochu was examined using the plaque assay method. It was suggested that Hochu may either obstruct the first stage of the infection process (adsorption and entry) or may directly target viral particles. Using the plaque assay method, these 2 modes of action could not be differentiated. Virus RNA in the infected cell was verified by quantitative real-Time polymerase chain reaction. An equal inhibition effect was obtained when Hochu was preprocessed for normal cells and when they were made to act simultaneously with virus adsorption. The viral load at the cell surface following UV irradiation was higher in the Hochu-Administered group as compared with that of the control. Moreover, the affinity of Hochu for the influenza virus was hundred times higher than its affinity for the host cell. The effect of entry obstruction by Hochu was observed via image analysis, where the amount of virus nucleocapsid protein (NP) invading the cell was visualized with FITC-labeled NP antibody. Hochu does not seem to have an effect on nucleic acid synthesis, viral release from infected cells, and on the subsequent second round of infection. In conclusion, Hochu binds to viral particles and forms complexes that can obstruct the entry of influenza virus into cells.
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