The plant lectins derived from Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop) (GNA) and Hippeastrum hybrid (Amaryllis) (HHA) selectively inhibited a wide variety of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and HIV-2 strains and clinical (CXCR4- and CCR5-using) isolates in different cell types. They also efficiently inhibited infection of T lymphocytes by a variety of mutant virus strains. GNA and HHA markedly prevented syncytium formation between persistently infected HUT-78/HIV cells and uninfected T lymphocytes. The plant lectins did not measurably affect the antiviral activity of other clinically approved anti-HIV drugs used in the clinic when combined with these drugs. Short exposure of the lectins to cell-free virus particles or persistently HIV-infected HUT-78 cells markedly decreased HIV infectivity and increased the protective (microbicidal) activity of the plant lectins. Flow cytometric analysis and monoclonal antibody binding studies and a PCR-based assay revealed that GNA and HHA do not interfere with CD4, CXCR4, CCR5, and DC-SIGN and do not specifically bind with the membrane of uninfected cells. Instead, GNA and HHA likely interrupt the virus entry process by interfering with the virus envelope glycoprotein. HHA and GNA are odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and they are not cytotoxic, antimetabolically active, or mitogenic to human primary T lymphocytes at concentrations that exceed their antivirally active concentrations by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude. GNA and HHA proved stable at high temperature (50°C) and low pH (5.0) for prolonged time periods and can be easily formulated in gel preparations for microbicidal use; they did not agglutinate human erythrocytes and were not toxic to mice when administered intravenously.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)