Ginsenosides are the major components responsible for the biochemical and pharmacological actions of ginseng, and have been shown to have various biological activities. In this study, we investigated the antiviral activities of seven ginsenosides [protopanaxatriol (PT) type: Re, Rf, and Rg2; protopanaxadiol (PD) type: Rb1, Rb2, Rc, and Rd)] against coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3), enterovirus 71 (EV71), and human rhinovirus 3 (HRV3).
Assays of antiviral activity and cytotoxicity were evaluated by the sulforhodamine B method using the cytopathic effect (CPE) reduction assay.
The antiviral assays demonstrated that, of the seven ginsenosides, the PT-type ginsenosides (Re, Rf, and Rg2) possess significant antiviral activities against CVB3 and HRV3 at a concentration of 100 μg/mL. Among the PT-type ginsenosides, only ginsenoside Rg2 showed significant anti-EV71 activity with no cytotoxicity to cells at 100 μg/mL. The PD-type ginsenosides (Rb1, Rb2, Rc, and Rd), by contrast, did not show any significant antiviral activity against CVB3, EV71, and HRV3, and exhibited cytotoxic effects to virus-infected cells. Notably, the antiviral efficacies of PT-type ginsenosides were comparable to those of ribavirin, a commonly used antiviral drug.
Collectively, our findings suggest that the ginsenosides Re, Rf, and Rg2 have the potential to be effective in the treatment of CVB3, EV71, and HRV3 infection.