Cranberry juice, long considered a home remedy for urinary tract infections, may also be effective against a number of gastrointestinal viruses according to researchers from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. They report their findings today at the 105th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
"The addition of commercially available cranberry juice cocktail to intestinal viruses resulted in viral reductions below detectible infectivity levels," says Patrice Cohen, a researcher on the study.
Intestinal virus infections account for significant illness and billions of dollars in medical expenses each year in the United States and throughout the world. On the international level, especially in developing nations, hundreds of thousands of infant deaths occur annually due to intestinal virus infections.
"Within the last five years, an increasingly large number of studies have suggested cranberry juice to be an effective commercial product for the reduction of urinary tract infections in women," says Cohen. a finding that led the research team to test the effectiveness of cranberry juice as a possible antiviral agent.
The researchers used intestinal monkey rotavirus SA-11 (SA-11) and a pool of goat intestinal reoviruses, as model intestinal virus systems. Treatment of SA-11 with cranberry juice prevented the virus from attaching to red blood cells or infecting its host cells. Visualization of SA-11 host cell cultures by high magnification (electron) microscopy showed an absence of viral particles in the cranberry juice treated host cells.
"Our studies suggest a cranberry juice-induced antiviral effect upon selected intestinal animal viral disease-producing agents. Additional studies in the form of human trials need to be performed to determine any beneficial effects of cranberry juice consumption as a means to help reduce the incidence of viral intestinal disease," says Cohen.
The study was performed by Patrice Cohen, Louisa Sethi, and Cindy Bastien, under the mentorship of Drs. Steven M. Lipson and Allan Burdowski and in collaboration with Dr. Robert Gordon, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The study is funded by the Cranberry Institute, the Wisconsin Cranberry Board, Inc. and by a St. Francis College Faculty Research Grant.