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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-782
Number of pages9
JournalPharmaceutical Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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