Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chairperson

Oné Pagán, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Sweet, Ph.D.


Alchornea cordifolia, known as Pennah, has been used extensively as a medicinal plant in Africa for treating a variety of ailments. Crude water (H2O) and methanol (MeOH) extracts prepared from dried leaves of Pennah were tested for antiviral activity against Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2) by plaque reduction assays, showing crude MeOH more effective as an antiviral against HSV2. Assays with fractionated MeOH extract resulted in highest plaque reduction in the 30% MeOH fraction (30% Pennah MeOH) at a significant 98% reduction at 250 µg/mL. Crude and 30% Pennah MeOH were found to contain alkaloids, phenols, and terpenoids.

Immunofluorescence technique was utilized to visualize the extent viral products were synthesized in infected Vero cells treated with 30% Pennah MeOH extract according to different times of infection. Indirect immunofluorescence assays used to observe the course of HSV2 infection in the Vero cells in conjunction with time-sensitive and neutralization assays uncovered the extract did not prevent total viral attachment, but showed inhibition of viral replication. The specific step after viral attachment and penetration inhibited is still unknown, requiring further investigation. Time sensitive assays suggest extract must be in the presence of unattached viral particle to inhibit the viral replication due to decreased plaque reduction when extract is removed in comparison to applied to the cells at 2 and 8 hours post attachment.

Overall, Alchornea cordifolia exhibited antiviral activity against HSV2, having the highest potential for plaque reduction in the 30% Methanol fraction, yet the inhibited events following attachment are still undefined.

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Biology Commons