JieZe-1 (JZ-1), a Chinese herbal prescription, has an obvious effect on genital herpes, which is mainly caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Our study aimed to address whether HSV-2 induces pyroptosis of VK2/E6E7 cells and to investigate the anti-HSV-2 activity of JZ-1 and the effect of JZ-1 on caspase-1-dependent pyroptosis.
HSV-2-infected VK2/E6E7 cells and culture supernate were harvested at different time points after the infection. Cells were co-treated with HSV-2 and penciclovir (0.078125 mg/mL) or caspase-1 inhibitor VX-765 (24 h pretreatment with 100 μmol/L) or JZ-1 (0.078125–50 mg/mL). Cell counting kit-8 assay and viral load analysis were used to evaluate the antiviral activity of JZ-1. Inflammasome activation and pyroptosis of VK2/E6E7 cells were analyzed using microscopy, Hoechst 33342/propidium iodide staining, lactate dehydrogenase release assay, gene and protein expression, co-immunoprecipitation, immunofluorescence, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
HSV-2 induced pyroptosis of VK2/E6E7 cells, with the most significant increase observed 24 h after the infection. JZ-1 effectively inhibited HSV-2 (the 50% inhibitory concentration = 1.709 mg/mL), with the 6.25 mg/mL dose showing the highest efficacy (95.76%). JZ-1 (6.25 mg/mL) suppressed pyroptosis of VK2/E6E7 cells. It downregulated the inflammasome activation and pyroptosis via inhibiting the expression of nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (P < 0.001) and interferon-γ-inducible protein 16 (P < 0.001), and their interactions with apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain, and reducing cleaved caspase-1 p20 (P < 0.01), gasdermin D-N (P < 0.01), interleukin (IL)-1β (P < 0.001), and IL-18 levels (P < 0.001).
JZ-1 exerts an excellent anti-HSV-2 effect in VK2/E6E7 cells, and it inhibits caspase-1-dependent pyroptosis induced by HSV-2 infection. These data enrich our understanding of the pathologic basis of HSV-2 infection and provide experimental evidence for the anti-HSV-2 activity of JZ-1.