Dengue is the most widespread arbovirus infection and poses a serious health and economic issue in tropical and subtropical countries. Currently no licensed vaccine or compounds can be used to prevent or manage the severity of dengue virus (DENV) infection. Honokiol, a lignan biphenol derived from the Magnolia tree, is commonly used in Eastern medicine. Here we report that honokiol has profound antiviral activity against serotype 2 DENV (DENV-2). In addition to inhibiting the intracellular DENV-2 replicon, honokiol was shown to suppress the replication of DENV-2 in baby hamster kidney (BHK) and human hepatocarcinoma Huh7 cells. At the maximum non-toxic dose of honokiol treatment, the production of infectious DENV particles was reduced >90% in BHK and Huh7 cells. The underlying mechanisms revealed that the expression of DENV-2 nonstructural protein NS1/NS3 and its replicating intermediate, double-strand RNA, was dramatically reduced by honokiol treatment. Honokiol has no effect on the expression of DENV putative receptors, but may interfere with the endocytosis of DENV-2 by abrogating the co-localization of DENV envelope glycoprotein and the early endosomes. These results indicate that honokiol inhibits the replication, viral gene expression, and endocytotic process of DENV-2, making it a promising agent for chemotherapy of DENV infection.
- Dengue virus