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Cell surface heparan sulphate (HS) mediates infection for many viruses from diverse families. We demonstrated significant antiviral potencies for a number of HS mimetics against a cloned strain of Enterovirus 71 (EV71) in a previous study. Thus, the involvement of HS in mediating viral infection of isolates of human enteroviruses was investigated in Vero and human neural cells in the present work. In both cell lines, heparin and pentosan polysulphate significantly inhibited both infection and attachment of low passage clinical isolates of EV71 and Coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) but showed no affect on Coxsackievirus B4 (CVB4) (p < 0.05). In addition, enzymatic removal of cell surface HS by heparinase I prevented binding of the clinical EV71 by nearly 50 % but failed to significantly inhibit CVA16 or CVB4 binding in Vero cells. Overall, the findings of this study provides evidence that whilst highly sulphated domains of HS serve as an essential attachment co-receptor for EV71, HS might be used as an alternative attachment receptor by the other member of Human Enterovirus group A, CVA16. In addition, HS may not mediate early infection in CVB4.

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