Litsea Species as Potential Antiviral Plant Sources

Yifu Guan, Dongying Wang, Ghee T. Tan, Nguyen Van Hung, Nguyen Manh Cuong, John M. Pezzuto, Harry H. S. Fong, Djaja Doel Soejarto, Hongjie Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Litsea verticillata Hance (Lauraceae), a Chinese medicine used to treat swelling caused by injury or by snake bites, was the first plant identified by our National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) project to exhibit anti-HIV activities. From this plant, we discovered a class of 8 novel litseane compounds, prototypic sesquite rpenes, all of which demonstrated anti-HIV activities. In subsequent studies, 26 additional compounds of different structural types were identified. During our continuing investigation of this plant species, we identified two new litseanes, litseaverticillols L and M, and a new sesquiterpene butenolide, litseasesquibutenolide. Litseaverticillols L and M were found to inhibit HIV-1 replication, with an IC50 value of 49.6μM. To further determine the antiviral properties of this plant, several relatively abundant isolates, including a litseane compound, two eudesmane sesquiterpenes and three lignans, were evaluated against an additional 21 viral targets. Lignans 8 and 9 were shown to be active against the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), with EC50 values of 22.0μM (SI=3.8) and 16.2μM (SI>6.2), respectively. Since many antiviral compounds have been discovered in L. verticillata, we further prepared 38 plant extracts made from the different plant parts of 9 additional Litsea species. These extracts were evaluated for their anti-HIV and cytotoxic activities, and four of the extracts, which ranged across three different species, displayed 97-100% inhibitory effects against HIV replication without showing cytotoxicity to a panel of human cell lines at a concentration of 20μg/mL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalThe American Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Litsea
  • Lauraceae
  • Litseane
  • Sesquiterpene Butenolide
  • Antiviral Activity
  • Anti-HIV Activity
  • Structure Determination


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