The hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes a common infectious disease that infects pigs, wild boars, deer, and humans. In most cases, humans are infected by eating raw meat. Some essential oils have been reported to exhibit antiviral activities. In this study, in order to investigate the anti-HEV properties of essential oils, the immunoreactivities of HEV antigen proteins against the relevant antibodies were analyzed after the HEV antigens underwent treatment with various essential oils. The essential oils extracted from the tea tree, which was previously reported to exhibit antiviral activity, lavender, and lemon had strongly reduced activity. We found that treatment with the essential oil prepared from Sakhalin spruce was associated with the strongest reduction in immunoreactivity of HEV antigen protein(s) among the tested substances. The main volatile constituents of Sakhalin spruce essential oil were found to be bornyl acetate (32.30%), α-pinene (16.66%), camphene (11.14%), camphor (5.52%), β-phellandrene (9.09%), borneol (4.77%), and limonene (4.57%). The anti-HEV properties of the various components of the essential oils were examined: treatment with bornyl acetate, the main component of Sakhalin spruce oil, a-pinene, the main component of tea tree oil, and limonene, the main component of lemon oil, resulted in a strong reduction in HEV antigen immunoreactivity. These results indicate that each main component of the essential oils plays an important role in the reduction of the immunoreactivity of HEV antigen protein(s); they also suggest that Sakhalin spruce essential oil exhibits anti-HEV activity. In a formulation with the potential to eliminate the infectivity of HEV in foodborne infections, this essential oil can be applied as an inactivating agent for meat processing and cooking utensils, such as knives and chopping boards.
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