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Quercetin Appears to Block Hepatitis C Virus Production

Laboratory study suggests quercetin fights infection by reducing viral heat shock proteins

FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) Quercetin, a natural heat shock protein inhibitor, may be a potential treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to a study in the December issue of Hepatology.

Oscar Gonzalez, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a mass spectrometric analysis of coimmunoprecipitated nonstructural protein 5A complexes from cell extracts, identified two heat shock proteins (40 and 70), and studied the effects of quercetin.

The researchers found that quercetin at non-toxic concentrations was associated with a significant reduction in viral production, possibly due to a reduction in the two heat shock proteins and their potential involvement in internal ribosome entry site translation.

"Heat shock protein synthesis inhibition may be an attractive therapeutic avenue, because it does not block a viral-encoded protein directly but rather a cellular cofactor," the authors conclude. "This may reduce the chance of treatment-related viral escape mutants. The low toxicity and pharmacokinetics of quercetin are well known, and it has been approved for other uses in clinical trials in the United Kingdom and the United States, rendering it an immediately viable candidate for treatment of HCV infection."

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