Hypericum in infection: Identification of anti-viral and anti-inflammatory constituents

Diane F. Birt, Iowa State University
Mark P. Widrlechner, Iowa State University
Kimberly D. P. Hammer, Iowa State University
Matthew L. Hillwig, Iowa State University
Jingqiang Wei, Iowa State University
George A. Kraus, Iowa State University
Patricia A. Murphy, Iowa State University
Joe-Ann McCoy, United States Department of Agriculture
Eve S. Wurtele, Iowa State University
Jeffrey D. Neighbors, Iowa State University
David F. Wiemer, University of Iowa
Wendy J. Maury, Iowa State University
Jason P. Price, University of Iowa

This article is from Pharmaceutical Biology 47 (2009): 774, doi: 10.1080/13880200902988645.


The Iowa Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements seeks to optimize Echinacea, Hypericum, and Prunella botanical supplements for human-health benefit, emphasizing anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-pain activities. This mini-review reports on ongoing studies on Hypericum. The Center uses the genetically diverse, well-documented Hypericum populations collected and maintained at the USDA-ARS North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS), and the strength of research in synthetic chemistry at Iowa State University to tap natural diversity, to help discover key constituents and interactions among constituents that impact bioactivity and toxicity. The NCRPIS has acquired more than 180 distinct populations of Hypericum, with a focus on Hypericum perforatum L. (Hypericaceae), representing about 13% of currently recognized taxa. Center chemists have developed novel synthetic pathways for key flavones, acyl phloroglucinols, hyperolactones, and a tetralin that have been found in Hypericum, and these compounds are used as standards and for bioactivity studies. Both light-dependent and light-independent anti-viral activities have been identified by using bioactivity-guided fractionation of H. perforatum and a HIV-1 infection test system. Our Center has focused on light-independent activity, potentially due to novel chemicals, and polar fractions are undergoing further fractionation. Anti-inflammatory activity has been found to be light-independent, and fractionation of a flavonoid-rich extract revealed four compounds (amentoflavone, chlorogenic acid, pseudohypericin, and quercetin) that interacted in the light to inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced prostaglandin E2 activity. The Center continues to explore novel populations of H. perforatum and related species to identify constituents and interactions of constituents that contribute to potential health benefits related to infection.