BACKGROUND: Berries are known to have many kinds of biological activities. We focused on their antiviral effect, which has not yet been well evaluated.
RESULTS: We compared the anti-influenza viral effects of berries belonging to the genus Vaccinium - 35 species of blueberry (Vaccinium cyanococcus), the Natsuhaze (Vaccinium oldhamii), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)- with those belonging to the genus Ribes, i.e. blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum). Only Elliott and Legacy among Northern Highbush varieties but many Rabbiteye varieties such as Austin, Baldwin, Brightblue, Festival, T-100 and Tifblue showed anti-influenza viral activity. Natsuhaze, bilberry, cranberry and blackcurrant had high antiviral effects. A relationship was observed between the antiviral effect and total polyphenol content.
CONCLUSIONS: Antiviral effects were found to differ markedly between berry species. Rabbiteye varieties tended to have higher antiviral effects than Northern, Southern and Half Highbush blueberry varieties. We also found that Natsuhaze, which has recently been harvested in Japan as a potential functional food, had an antiviral effect comparable to that of bilberry, cranberry and blackcurrant. There was a positive relationship between antiviral activity and polyphenol content, indicating the possibility that polyphenol is one of the key factors in the antiviral effects of berries. 2012 Society of Chemical Industry.