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Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) Extract Impairs Nairovirus Infection by Inhibiting the Attachment to Target Cells.

Mirandola M, Salvati MV, Rodigari C, Appelberg KS, Mirazimi A, Maffei ME, Gribaudo G, Salata C
Pathogens. 10(8), 2021 Aug 13.

Hazara virus (HAZV) belongs to the Nairoviridae family and is included in the same serogroup of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV). CCHFV is the most widespread tick-borne arbovirus. It is responsible for a serious hemorrhagic disease, for which specific and effective treatment and preventive systems are missing. Bioactive compounds derived from several natural products may provide a natural source of broad-spectrum antiviral agents, characterized by good tolerability and minimal side effects. Previous in vitro studies have shown that a cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) extract containing a high content of A-type proanthocyanidins (PAC-A) inhibits the replication of herpes simplex and influenza viruses by hampering their attachment to target cells. Given the broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity of polyphenols and the urgency to develop therapies for the treatment of CCHF, we investigated the antiviral activity of cranberry extract against HAZV, a surrogate nairovirus model of CCHFV that can be handled in Level 2 Biosafety Laboratories (BSL-2). The results indicate that the cranberry extract exerts an antiviral activity against HAZV by targeting early stages of the viral replication cycle, including the initial adsorption to target cells. Although the details of the molecular mechanism of action remain to be clarified, the cranberry extract exerts a virucidal effect through a direct interaction with HAZV particles that leads to the subsequent impairment of virus attachment to cell-surface receptors. Finally, the antiviral activity of the cranberry extract was also confirmed for CCHFV. As a whole, the evidence obtained suggests that cranberry extract is a valuable candidate to be considered for the development of therapeutic strategies for CCHFV infections.