ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, the main pathogenesis of severe hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is that the heat and wet poisons are deeply trapped in the viscera, which causes the deficiency of Qi and Yin in the patient's body. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1) is the most abundant triterpenoid saponin in Panax quinquefolius L., which has the function of Qi-invigorating and Yin-nourishing. Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is one of the causative pathogens of HFMD, especially the form associated with some lethal complications. Therefore, the therapeutic effect of Rb1 on this disease caused by EV71 infection is worth exploring. AIM OF THE STUDY: We explored the effective antiviral activities of Rb1 against EV71 in vitro and in vivo and investigated its preliminary antiviral mechanisms. MATERIAL AND METHODS: EV71-infected two-day-old suckling mice model was employed to detect the antiviral effects of Rb1 in vivo. To detect the antiviral effects of Rb1 in vitro, cytopathic effect (CPE) reduction assay was performed in EV71-infected Rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) cells. Interferon (IFN)-β interference experiment was employed to detect the antiviral mechanism of Rb1. RESULTS: In this paper, we first found that Rb1 exhibited strong antiviral activities in EV71-infected suckling mice when compared to those of ribavirin. Administration of Rb1 reduced the CPE of EV71-infected RD cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, EV71-induced viral protein-1 (VP-1) expression was significantly reduced by Rb1 administration in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, Rb1 treatment could induce high cellular and humoral immune responses in vivo. Meanwhile, Rb1 contributed to the enhanced Type I IFN responses and IFN-β knockdown reversed the antiviral activity of Rb1 in vitro. CONCLUSION: In summary, our findings suggest that Rb1 is an immune-stimulatory agent and provide an insight into therapeutic potentials of Rb1 for the treatment of EV71 infection.
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