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1.  Differential Induction of Isolated Lymphoid Follicles in the Gut by 18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100878.
18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA) is a pharmacologically active component of licorice root with documented immunomodulatory properties. We reported that GRA administered orally to mice induces B cell recruitment to isolated lymphoid follicles (ILF) in the small intestine and shortens the duration of rotavirus antigen shedding. ILF are dynamic lymphoid tissues in the gut acquired post-natally upon colonization with commensal bacteria and mature through B cell recruitment to the follicles, resulting in up-regulation of IgA synthesis in response to changes in the composition of microbiota. In this study, we investigated potential mechanisms by which GRA induces ILF maturation in the ileum and the colon using mice depleted of enteric bacteria and a select group of mice genetically deficient in pattern recognition receptors. The data show GRA was unable to induce ILF maturation in ileums of mice devoid of commensal bacteria, MyD88−/− or NOD2−/− mice, but differentially induced ILF in colons. Increased expression of chemokine and chemokine receptor genes that modulate B and T cell recruitment to the mucosa were in part dependent on NOD2, TLR, and signaling adaptor protein MyD88. Together the results suggest GRA induces ILF through cooperative signals provided by bacterial ligands under normal conditions to induce B cell recruitment to ILF to the gut, but that the relative contribution of these signals differ between ileum and colon.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100878
PMCID: PMC4081046  PMID: 24992099
2.  18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid Inhibits Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Survival and Attenuates Virulence Gene Expression 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a major source of infection in hospitals and in the community. Increasing antibiotic resistance in S. aureus strains has created a need for alternative therapies to treat disease. A component of the licorice root Glycyrrhiza spp., 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA), has been shown to have antiviral, antitumor, and antibacterial activity. This investigation explores the in vitro and in vivo effects of GRA on MRSA pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) type USA300. GRA exhibited bactericidal activity at concentrations exceeding 0.223 μM. Upon exposure of S. aureus to sublytic concentrations of GRA, we observed a reduction in expression of key virulence genes, including saeR and hla. In murine models of skin and soft tissue infection, topical GRA treatment significantly reduced skin lesion size and decreased the expression of saeR and hla genes. Our investigation demonstrates that at high concentrations GRA is bactericidal to MRSA and at sublethal doses it reduces virulence gene expression in S. aureus both in vitro and in vivo.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01023-12
PMCID: PMC3535912  PMID: 23114775
3.  18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid Delivered Orally Induces Isolated Lymphoid Follicle Maturation at the Intestinal Mucosa and Attenuates Rotavirus Shedding 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49491.
Glycyrrhizin, an abundant bioactive component of the medicinal licorice root is rapidly metabolized by gut commensal bacteria into 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA). Either or both of these compounds have been shown to have antiviral, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-ulcerative, anti-tumor, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory activity in vitro or in vivo. In this study, the ability of GRA to modulate immune responses at the small intestinal mucosa when delivered orally was investigated. Analysis of cytokine transcription in duodenal and ileal tissue in response to GRA treatment revealed a pattern of chemokine and chemokine receptor gene expression predictive of B cell recruitment to the gut. Consistent with this finding, GRA induced increases in CD19+ B cells in the lamina propria and B220+ B cell aggregates framed by CD11c+ dendritic cells in structures resembling isolated lymphoid follicles (ILF). Using a mouse model of rotavirus infection, GRA reduced the duration of viral antigen shedding, and endpoint serum antibody titers were higher in GRA-treated animals. Together the data suggest GRA delivered orally augments lymphocyte recruitment to the intestinal mucosa and induces maturation of B cell-rich ILF independently of ectopic antigenic stimulus. These results provide further support a role for dietary ligands in modulation of dynamic intestinal lymphoid tissue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049491
PMCID: PMC3496704  PMID: 23152913
4.  18β-glycyrrhetinic acid inhibits rotavirus replication in culture 
Virology Journal  2012;9:96.
Background
Glycyrrhizin (GA) and primary metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA) are pharmacologically active components of the medicinal licorice root, and both have been shown to have antiviral and immunomodulatory properties. Although these properties are well established, the mechanisms of action are not completely understood. In this study, GA and GRA were tested for the ability to inhibit rotavirus replication in cell culture, toward a long term goal of discovering natural compounds that may complement existing vaccines.
Methods
Epithelial cells were treated with GA or GRA various times pre- or post-infection and virus yields were measured by immunofluorescent focus assay. Levels of viral proteins VP2, VP6, and NSP2 in GRA treated cells were measured by immunoblot to determine if there was an effect of GRA treatment on the accumulation of viral protein.
Results
GRA treatment reduced rotavirus yields by 99% when added to infected cultures post-- virus adsorption, whereas virus yields in GA treated cultures were similar to mock treated controls. Time of addition experiments indicated that GRA-mediated replication inhibition likely occurs at a step or steps subsequent to virus entry. The amounts of VP2, VP6 and NSP2 were substantially reduced when GRA was added to cultures up to two hours post-entry.
Conclusions
GRA, but not GA, has significant antiviral activity against rotavirus replication in vitro, and studies to determine whether GRA attenuates rotavirus replication in vivo are underway.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-96
PMCID: PMC3478227  PMID: 22616823
Rotavirus; Licorice; 18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid; Antiviral

Results 1-4 (4)