HealthDay News –  In an experimental mouse model, vitamin C and ginseng treated cells enhanced T- and NK-cell activation resulting in the suppression of influenza viral replication and lung inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

Hyemin Kim, from the Seoul National University in South Korea, and colleagues examined the anti-viral effects of red ginseng and vitamin C on influenza A virus/H1N1 infection in mice genetically incapable of synthesizing vitamin C like humans (Gulo[−/−]).

The researchers found that red ginseng and vitamin C increased the expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and natural killer (NK) cells. In Gulo(−/−) mice, red ginseng and vitamin C increased the expression of NKp46, a natural cytotoxic receptor of NK cells and interferon-γ production. 


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In the lungs of vitamin C-depleted Gulo(−/−) mice, influenza infection increased inflammation and viral plaque accumulation and decreased survival rates; however, inflammation and viral plaque accumulation were substantially reduced by red ginseng and vitamin C supplementation.

“Administration of red ginseng and vitamin C enhanced the activation of immune cells like T and NK cells, and repressed the progress of viral lytic cycle,” the authors write.


Summary and Clinical Applicability

Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)-infected BCBL-1 cells exposed to red ginseng and vitamin C resulted in an increased expression of a natural cytotoxic receptor of NK cells. When these treated cells were administered to Gulo (−/−) mice (a knockout mouse model used to study vitamin C deficiency), survival improved as a result of decreased lung inflammation associated with influenza A virus/H1N1 infection.

These results suggest that in a murine experimental model, red ginseng and vitamin C in combination regulate immune cell function resulting in suppression of viral infection.

Reference

Kim H, Jang M, Kim Y, et al. Red ginseng and vitamin C increase immune cell activity and decrease lung inflammation induced by influenza A virus/H1N1 infection. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2016;first published online Feb 21 2016. DOI: 10.1111/jphp.12529