Nutraceutical activators of AMPK/Sirt1 axis inhibit viral production and protect neurons from neurodegenerative events triggered during HSV-1 infection

Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) is ubiquitous and is able to establish a
lifelong persistent latent infection in neurons of infected individuals. It has
been estimated that in approximately 70% of the population over 50 years old, the virus enters the brain and infects neurons, and possibly undergoes recurrent
reactivation episodes during lifetime, especially in immunodepressed individuals.
We previously showed that the sensors AMP-dependent kinase (AMPK) and Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1), involved in survival pathways and neuroprotection, were affected during the course of HSV-1 infection. To evaluate if natural activators of the AMPK/Sirt1 axis, such as Resveratrol and Quercetin could reduce viral propagation and/or counteract the effects of neuronal infection, we analyzed progeny virion production, neuronal viability and neurodegenerative events during HSV-1 infection. We found that the activators of AMPK/Sirt1 axis, increased the viability of infected neurons, significantly reduced the viral titer in the supernatant and the expression of viral genes. More importantly, pretreatment of neurons with Resveratrol or Quercetin significantly reduced the levels of
caspase-3 cleaved- and hyperphosphorylated tau associated with HSV-1 infection. These results suggest that activators of the AMPK/Sirt1 axis could be potentially useful in reducing the risk of HSV-1 productive infection in neurons and the cellular damage associated with reactivation episodes.

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