Griffithsin has antiviral activity against hepatitis C virus

Philip Meuleman, Anna Albecka, Sandrine Belouzard, Koen Vercauteren, Lieven Verhoye, Czeslaw Wychowski, Geert Leroux-Roels, Kenneth E Palmer, Jean Dubuisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients undergoing liver transplantation universally experience rapid reinfection of their new liver graft. Current treatment protocols do not prevent graft reinfection and, in addition, an accelerated disease progression is observed. In the present study, we have evaluated a novel strategy to prevent HCV infection using a lectin, griffithsin (GRFT) that specifically binds N-linked high-mannose oligosaccharides that are present on the viral envelope. The antiviral effect of GRFT was evaluated in vitro using the HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) and HCV cell culture (HCVcc) systems. We show here that preincubation of HCVpp and HCVcc with GRFT prevents infection of Huh-7 hepatoma cells. Furthermore, GRFT interferes with direct cell-to-cell transmission of HCV. GRFT acts at an early phase of the viral life cycle by interfering in a genotype-independent fashion with the interaction between the viral envelope proteins and the viral receptor CD81. The capacity of GRFT to prevent infection in vivo was evaluated using uPA(+/+)-SCID mice (uPA stands for urokinase-type plasminogen activator) that harbor human primary hepatocytes in their liver (chimeric mice). In this proof-of-concept trial, we demonstrated that GRFT can mitigate HCV infection of chimeric mice. Treated animals that did become infected demonstrated a considerable delay in the kinetics of the viral infection. Our data demonstrate that GRFT can prevent HCV infection in vitro and mitigate HCV infection in vivo. GRFT treatment of chronically infected HCV patients undergoing liver transplantation may be a suitable strategy to prevent infection of the liver allograft.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)5159-67
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2011


  • Algal Proteins/pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents/pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Hepacivirus/drug effects
  • Hepatitis C/drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Lectins/pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Plant Lectins
  • Protein Binding
  • Viral Proteins/metabolism


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