Background: Natural products are a relevant source of antiviral drugs. Five medicinal plants used in Argentina have been assayed to detect inhibition of viral growth. Methods: Antiviral activity of the infusions and methanolic extracts of Aristolochia macroura, Celtis spinosa, Plantago major, Schinus areira, Petiveria alliacea and four extracts obtained from the leaves and stems of the last plant were evaluated by the plaque assay. Results:P. alliacea, unlike A. macroura, C. spinosa, P. major and S. areira, inhibited bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) replication. Neither P. alliacea nor the assays of the other plants were active against herpes simplex virus type 1, poliovirus type 1, adenovirus serotype 7 and vesicular stomatitis virus type 1. Four extracts of P. alliacea were assayed to detect anti-BVDV activity. Ethyl acetate (EC50 of 25 µg/ml) and dichloromethane (EC50 of 43 µg/ml) extracts were active; moreover, promising SI (IC50/EC50) values were obtained. Conclusion: BVDV is highly prevalent in the cattle population, there are no antiviral compounds available; additionally, it is a viral model of the hepatitis C virus. For these reasons and in view of the results obtained, the isolation and characterization of the antiviral components present in the P. alliacea extracts is worth carrying out in the future.
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