Background: Plants extracts and their bioactive constituents can provide an alternative approach
for new treatment. Pakistani flora reveals a huge, largely untapped source of potential antiviral
Objective: High-cost concerns of direct-acting anti-HCV drugs limit their employment specifically in
developing countries like Pakistan. Therefore, discovery of inexpensive and nontoxic agents is needed
for HCV treatment.
Methodology: In this study, we used plasmid constructs of pCR3.1/FLAGtag/HCV NS3/4A (genotype
1a & 3a) and Punica granatum extracts (PK AV 003) and semi-purified fractions (P1-P11) were evaluated
for their anti-HCV activity. Acetone extract along with two fractions (P4 & P11) revealed a useful
Results: The fractions P4 (IC50=28.5±0.02 µg/ml; IC25=16±0.02 µg/ml) and P11 (IC50=72±0.02 µg/ml;
IC25=41±0.03 μg/ml) dramatically suppressed HCV replication as measured by quantitative PCR
(qPCR) and HCV NS3 protein expression level in transient transfection model. Consistent with suppression
in genome replication, inhibition of HCV infectious particles by PK AV 003 extract was also
judged in an infectious model system. This data is the first description of Pakistani indigenous cultivated
fruit-producing plant, Punica granatum, possessing anti-HCV activity. Further analyses are being
performed for investigating the mechanistic studies and structural characterization of purified fractions
of PK AV 003.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that PK AV 003 fruit extract might be useful as an add-on therapeutic
candidate for treating HCV infection.