An influenza epidemic is still a problem despite the development of vaccines and anti-influenza drugs. Preventive measures such as handwashing are fundamental and important for counteracting influenza virus infection. In this study, we clarified the anti-influenza virus effects of surfactants, which are the main components of hand soaps for hand washing: potassium oleate (C18:1), sodium laureth sulfate (LES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SDS). For a human influenza virus strain (H3N2), C18:1 reduced the infectivity by 4 logs or more, whereas LES and SDS reduced the infectivity by 1 log or less. Similar results were obtained when an avian influenza virus strain (H5N3) was used. The interaction between the surfactant and virus was then investigated by isothermal titration calorimetry. The LES-virus system showed a positive value of enthalpy changes (δH), meaning an exothermic interaction that indicated a hydrophobic interaction. In contrast, both the C18:1-virus system and the SDS-virus system showed negative values of δH, meaning an endothermic interaction that indicated an electrical interaction. The δH value of the C18:1-virus system was much higher than that of the SDS-virus system. A mixture of C18:1 and HA proteins similarly showed negative values of δH. These results indicate that influenza virus inactivation by a hydrophobic interaction of a surfactant with the viral envelope is insufficient to prevent infection, whereas inactivation by an electrical interaction of a surfactant with HA proteins is sufficient to prevent influenza virus infection.
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