During the recent years, significant progress has been achieved on development of novel anti-viral drugs. Natural products are assumed as the potential sources of novel anti-viral drugs; therefore, there are some previous studies reporting the anti-viral compounds from venomous animals. Based on the significant value for tracing of non-toxic anti-viral agents from natural resources, this study was aimed to investigate the anti-viral activity of some HPLC purified fractions derived from the venom of Iranian scorpion, Hemiscorpius lepturus, against human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) and herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).
H. Lepturus crude venom was subjected to reverse phase HPLC analysis to determine its active components precisely where four dominant fractions obtained at retention time of 156-160 minutes. The phospholipase A2 and hemolytic activities of the purified fractions were first evaluated. Then the anti-viral activity was measured using single cycle HIV (NL4-3) replication and HSV (KOS) plaque reduction assays.
The H. lepturus crude venom inhibited HIV replication by 73% at the concentration of 200 µg/ml, while it did not show significant anti-HSV activity. It also inhibited the cell-free viral particles in a virucidal assay, while it showed no toxicity for the target cells in a proliferation assay. The four HPLC fractions purified from H. lepturus inhibited HIV with IC50 of 20 µg/ml.
H. lepturus venom contains components with considerable anti-HIV activity insofar as it has virucidal activity that offers a novel therapeutic approach against HIV infection. Our results suggest a promising pilot for anti-HIV drug discovery with H. lepturus scorpion venom.