Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major worldwide health problem that can cause liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The clinical treatment of HCV infection mainly relies on the use of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) that are usually expensive and have side effects. Therefore, achieving the discovery of more successful agents is always urgent. In this context, antiviral compounds that inhibit viral infections and disease progression with important therapeutic activities have been identified in animal venoms including arthropod toxins. This indicates that arthropod venoms represent a good natural source of promising candidates for new antivirals. Methods: The antiviral activity of the wasp venom (WV), isolated from the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis), was assessed using cell culture technique with human hepatocellular carcinoma-derived cell line (Huh7it-1) and the recombinant strain of HCV genotype 2a (JFH1). Results: The results revealed that WV inhibited HCV infectivity with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 10 ng/mL, while the 50% cytotoxic concentration (CC50) was 11,000 ng/mL. Time of addition experiment showed that the WV blocked HCV attachment/entry to the cells probably through virucidal effect. On the other hand, the venom showed no inhibitory effect on HCV replication. Conclusion: WV can inhibit the entry stage of HCV infection at non-cytotoxic concentrations. Therefore, it could be considered a potential candidate for characterization of natural anti-HCV agents targeting the entry step.
Keywords: Wasp venom; Vespa orientalis ; Hepatitis C virus (HCV); Antiviral activity.