Glycans with Antiviral Activity from Marine Organisms

  • I. D. GriceEmail author
  • G. L. Mariottini
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 65)


There remains today a critical need for new antiviral agents, particularly in view of the alarming increase in drug resistance and associated issues. The marine environment has been a prolific contributor towards the identification of novel therapeutic agents in the recent few decades. Added to this, glycans (or carbohydrate- or sugar-based compounds) have in very recent decades made outstanding contributions to the development of novel therapeutics. This review brings together these significant facets of modern drug discovery by presenting the reported literature on glycans derived from marine organisms that possess antiviral activity.

The glycans have been grouped together based on the marine organism they were isolated from, namely, (1) bacteria, (2) chromists, (3) plants and (4) animals. For chromists, glycans are further subsectioned into Ochrophyta (brown algae), Miozoa (according to; also called Myzozoa according to WoRMS, (dinoflagellates) and Bacillariophyta (diatoms). For plants, glycans are further subsectioned into Chlorophyta, Rhodophyta and Tracheophyta. Glycans isolated to date are reported as alginates, chitosan, extracellular polysaccharides, fucans (e.g. fucoidans), galactans (e.g. carrageenans), glycolipids, glycosaminoglycans, glycosides, glycosylated haemocyanin, laminarans, mannans, polysaccharides (not defined), rhamnans and xylomannans. Interestingly, many of the glycans displaying antiviral properties are sulfated.

Reports indicate that marine-sourced glycans have exhibited antiviral activity against African swine fever virus, cytomegalovirus, dengue virus, Epstein-Barr virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis C virus, herpes simplex virus, human cytomegalovirus, human papilloma virus, human rhino virus, influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, murine leukaemia virus, murine sarcoma virus, Newcastle disease virus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, Semliki Forest virus, tobacco mosaic virus, vaccinia virus, varicella zoster virus, viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus and vesicular stomatitis virus. Selected representative glycan structures are presented in Fig. 20.1.



African swine fever virus




Chondroitin sulfate


Dengue virus


Epstein-Barr virus


Encephalomyocarditis virus












Glucuronic acid


Galactan sulfate


Guluronic acid


Human cytomegalovirus


Hepatitis C virus


Human immunodeficiency virus


Human papilloma virus


Herpes simplex virus


Human rhino virus


Iduronic acid


Influenza virus


Japanese encephalitis virus




Mannuronic acid


Murine leukaemia virus


Murine sarcoma virus


Newcastle disease virus


Parainfluenza virus








Respiratory syncytial virus


Sulfated fucan


Sulfated galactan


Semliki Forest virus


Sulfate groups


Sulfated galactofucan


Sulfated galactan polysaccharide


Sulfated polysaccharide


Sulfated polymannuroguluronate




Sulfated xylomannan


Tobacco mosaic virus


Vaccinia virus


Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus


Vesicular stomatitis virus


Varicella zoster virus




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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Glycomics and School of Medical ScienceGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Earth, Environment and Life SciencesUniversity of GenovaGenovaItaly

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