How Grapefruit Reduces the Spread of HCV
Grapefruit compound may help fight hepatitis C infection
Feb 14, 2008, 05:21
A compound naturally occurring in grapefruit and other citrus fruits may help get rid of hepatitis C virus, according to a study published in an upcoming issue of the journal Hematology.
The study led by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine showed naringerin, a flavonoid found in grapefruit, blocks the secretion of hepatitis C virus from infected cells.
Hepatitis C virus needs to latch onto a very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL, a so-called bad cholesterol) to pass on the infection to other cells in the liver.
The effect was observed in cultured cell lines.
“These results suggest that lipid-lowering drugs, as well as supplements, such as naringenin, may be combined with traditional antiviral therapies to reduce or even eliminate HCV from infected patients,” said Yaakov Nahmias, PhD, of the MGH-CEM, the paper’s lead author.
“Identifying the route by which HCV is released from cells introduces a new therapeutic target,” said Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, director of the MGH-CEM and the paper’s senior author.
“That pathway’s dependence on cholesterol metabolism could allow us to interfere with viral propagation to other cells and tissues, using tools already developed for atherosclerosis treatment.”
Early studies showed hepatitis C virus needs vLDL to maintain its infection and naringenin can reduce secretion of vLDL from liver cells. The current study was meant to examine whether the compound might also lower HCV secretion from infected cells.
Hepatitis C virus is the leading cause of chronic viral liver disease in the United States that infects about 3 percent of the world population.
Eighty percent of persons with hepatitis C have no signs or symptoms but common symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and nausea. Often it transmits from one person to another through contact of blood.
The current antiviral medications can treat 50 percent of cases, but 70 percent are expected to develop chronic infection, leading to cirrhosis or liver cancer in the end.
The researcher said naringerin or other lipid-lowering drugs could be used with other antiviral medications to treat hepatitis C infection if the effect is confirmed in human trials.