Griffithsin and carrageenan combination to target herpes simplex virus 2 and human papillomavirus

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Extensive preclinical evaluation of griffithsin (GRFT) has identified this lectin to be a promising broad-spectrum microbicide. We set out to explore the antiviral properties of a GRFT and carrageenan (CG) combination product against herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as determine the mechanism of action (MOA) of GRFT against both viruses. We performed the experiments in different cell lines, using time-of-addition and temperature dependence experiments to differentiate inhibition of viral attachment from entry and viral receptor internalization. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) was used to assess GRFT binding to viral glycoproteins, and immunoprecipitation and immunohistochemistry were used to identify the specific glycoprotein involved. We determined the antiviral activity of GRFT against HSV-2 to be a 50% effective concentration (EC_50) of 230 nM and provide the first evidence that GRFT has moderate anti-HPV activity (EC_50 = 0.429 to 1.39 μM). GRFT blocks the entry of HSV-2 and HPV into target cells but not the adsorption of HSV-2 and HPV onto target cells. The results of the SPR, immunoprecipitation, and immunohistochemistry analyses of HSV-2 combined suggest that GRFT may block viral entry by binding to HSV-2 glycoprotein D. Cell-based assays suggest anti-HPV activity through α6 integrin internalization. The GRFT-CG combination product but not GRFT or CG alone reduced HSV-2 vaginal infection in mice when given an hour before challenge (P = 0.0352). While GRFT significantly protected mice against vaginal HPV infection when dosed during and after HPV16 pseudovirus challenge (P < 0.026), greater CG-mediated protection was afforded by the GRFT-CG combination for up to 8 h (P < 0.0022). These findings support the development of the GRFT-CG combination as a broad-spectrum microbicide.