Three antiviral and immunostimulating substances (LC1, LC2 and LC3) were isolated from a hot water extract of seeds of Pimpinella anisum by combination of anion-exchange, gel filtration and hydrophobic interaction column chromatographies. Chemical and spectroscopic analyses revealed them to be lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes. These lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCs) showed antiviral activities against herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and -2), human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and measles virus.
LCs were also found to interfere with virus adsorption to the host cell surface and directly inactivate viruses. Furthermore, they enhanced nitric oxide (NO) production by inducing iNOS mRNA and protein expression in RAW 264.7 murine macrophage cells. The induced mRNA expression of cytokines including IL-1β and IL-10 was also apparent. These results suggest that the lignin-carbohydrate-protein complexes from P. anisum possessed potency as functional food ingredients against infectious diseases.