Without a vaccine, hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a significant threat, putting 170-300 million carriers worldwide at risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the direct-acting antivirals targeting HCV replication have revolutionized the treatment of hepatitis C, several obstacles persist, including resistance development, potential side-effects, and the prohibitive cost that limits their availability. Furthermore, treatment of HCV re-infection in liver transplantation remains a significant challenge. Developing novel antivirals that target viral entry could help expand the scope of HCV therapeutics and treatment strategies. Herein, we report (4R,6S)-2-dihydromenisdaurilide (DHMD), a natural butenolide, as an efficient inhibitor of HCV entry. Specifically, DHMD potently inhibited HCV infection at non-cytotoxic concentration. Examination on the viral life cycle demonstrated that DHMD selectively targeted the early steps of infection while leaving viral replication/translation and assembly/release unaffected. Furthermore, DHMD did not induce an antiviral interferon response. Mechanistic dissection of HCV entry revealed that DHMD could inactivate cell-free virus, abrogate viral attachment, and inhibit viral entry/fusion, with the most pronounced effect observed against the viral adsorption phase as validated using ELISA and confocal microscopy. Due to its potency, DHMD may be of value for further development as an entry inhibitor against HCV, particularly for application in transplant setting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas