Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) remains an important public health threat with approximately 170 million carriers worldwide who are at risk of developing hepatitis C-associated end-stage liver diseases. Despite improvement of HCV treatment using the novel direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) targeting viral replication, there is a lack of prophylactic measures for protection against HCV infection. Identifying novel antivirals such as those that target viral entry could help broaden the therapeutic arsenal against HCV. Herein, we investigated the anti-HCV activity of the methanolic extract from Rhizoma coptidis (RC), a widely used traditional Chinese medicine documented by the WHO and experimentally reported to possess several pharmacological functions including antiviral effects. Using the cell culture-derived HCV system, we demonstrated that RC dose-dependently inhibited HCV infection of Huh-7.5 cells at non-cytotoxic concentrations. In particular, RC blocked HCV attachment and entry/fusion into the host cells without exerting any significant effect on the cell-free viral particles or modulating key host cell entry factors to HCV. Moreover, RC robustly suppressed HCV pseudoparticles infection of Huh-7.5 cells and impeded infection by several HCV genotypes. Collectively, our results identified RC as a potent antagonist to HCV entry with potential pan-genotypic properties, which deserves further evaluation for use as an anti-HCV agent.
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