(searched for: doi:10.1016/j.jiph.2020.09.015)
Published: 20 April 2021
The global emergence of Covid-19 has caused huge human casualties. Clinical manifestations of the disease vary from asymptomatic to lethal, and the symptomatic form can be associated with cytokine storm and non-homeostatic inflammatory response. In face of the urgent demand for effective drugs to treat Covid-19, we have searched for candidate compounds using a drug repurposing approach based on in silico analysis followed by biological validation. Here we identified celastrol, a pentacyclic triterpene isolated from Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F – a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine – as one of the best compounds out of 39 repurposed drug candidates. Celastrol reverted gene expression signature from SARS-CoV-2-infected cells; bound with high-affinity energy to viral molecular targets such as main protease (Mpro) and receptor-biding domain (RBD); inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in monkey (Vero and Vero-ACE2) and human (Caco-2 and Calu-3) cell lines; and decreased interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion in SARS-CoV-2-infected human cell lines. Interestingly, celastrol acted in a concentration-dependent manner, with undetectable signs of cytotoxicity. Therefore, celastrol is a promising lead drug candidate to treat Covid-19 due to its ability to suppress SARS-CoV-2 replication and IL-6 production in infected cells, two critical events in the pathophysiology of this disease.
Food and Chemical Toxicology; doi:10.1016/j.fct.2021.112160
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Microorganisms, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/microorganisms9020434
Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) causes a wide range of infections from mild to life-threatening in the human population. There are effective treatments for HSV-1 infections that are limited due HSV-1 latency and development of resistance to current therapeutics. The goal of this study was to investigate the antioxidant and antiviral effects of embelin on HSV-1 in cultured Vero cells. Oxidative stress was verified by an extensive production of a reactive oxygen species (ROS) H2O2. Vero cells were infected with a recombinant strain of HSV-1 and antiviral assays, time course attachment, penetration, and post penetration assays, confocal microscopy, qPCR, and antioxidant assays were conducted. Our results lead to the conclusion that embelin is noncytotoxic at concentrations tested ranging from 20 to 70 µM. Treatment of HSV-1 virions with embelin resulted in 98.7–100% inhibition and affected the early stage of HSV-1 infection of Vero cells, by inhibiting the attachment and penetration of HSV-1 virions to host cells. Treatment of virions with concentrations of embelin ranging from 35 to 60 µM significantly reduced the production of H2O2. In conclusion, embelin reduces oxidative damage caused by HSV-1 infection and is an effective antiviral to reduce the infection of HSV-1 in cultured Vero cells. Further studies are needed to explore the possibility of embelin as a medicinal agent.
Molecules, Volume 26; doi:10.3390/molecules26030632
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified in China as the etiologic agent of the recent COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Due to its high transmissibility, this virus quickly spread throughout the world, causing considerable health issues. The scientific community exerted noteworthy efforts to obtain therapeutic solutions for COVID-19, and new scientific networks were constituted. No certified drugs to efficiently inhibit the virus were identified, and the development of de-novo medicines requires approximately ten years of research. Therefore, the repurposing of natural products could be an effective strategy to handle SARS-CoV-2 infection. This review aims to update on current status of the natural occurring compounds recognizing SARS-CoV-2 druggable targets. Among the clinical trials actually recruited, some natural compounds are ongoing to examine their potential role to prevent and to treat the COVID-19 infection. Many natural scaffolds, including alkaloids, terpenes, flavonoids, and benzoquinones, were investigated by in-silico, in-vitro, and in-vivo approaches. Despite the large data set obtained by a computational approach, experimental evidences in most cases are not available. To fill this gap, further efforts to validate these results are required. We believe that an accurate investigation of naturally occurring compounds may provide insights for the potential treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Molecules, Volume 26; doi:10.3390/molecules26020448
The ongoing pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 human coronavirus (HCoV), has brought the international scientific community before a state of emergency that needs to be addressed with intensive research for the discovery of pharmacological agents with antiviral activity. Potential antiviral natural products (NPs) have been discovered from plants of the global biodiversity, including extracts, compounds and categories of compounds with activity against several viruses of the respiratory tract such as HCoVs. However, the scarcity of natural products (NPs) and small-molecules (SMs) used as antiviral agents, especially for HCoVs, is notable. This is a review of 203 publications, which were selected using PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar, evaluates the available literature since the discovery of the first human coronavirus in the 1960s; it summarizes important aspects of structure, function, and therapeutic targeting of HCoVs as well as NPs (19 total plant extracts and 204 isolated or semi-synthesized pure compounds) with anti-HCoV activity targeting viral and non-viral proteins, while focusing on the advances on the discovery of NPs with anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity, and providing a critical perspective.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 21; doi:10.3390/ijms21239266
We describe the potential anti coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) action of the methide quinone inhibitor, celastrol. The related methide quinone dexamethasone is, so far, among COVID-19 medications perhaps the most effective drug for patients with severe symptoms. We observe a parallel redox biology behavior between the antioxidant action of celastrol when scavenging the superoxide radical, and the adduct formation of celastrol with the main COVID-19 protease. The related molecular mechanism is envisioned using molecular mechanics and dynamics calculations. It proposes a covalent bond between the S(Cys145) amino acid thiolate and the celastrol A ring, assisted by proton transfers by His164 and His41 amino acids, and a π interaction from Met49 to the celastrol B ring. Specifically, celastrol possesses two moieties that are able to independently scavenge the superoxide radical: the carboxylic framework located at ring E, and the methide-quinone ring A. The latter captures the superoxide electron, releasing molecular oxygen, and is the feature of interest that correlates with the mechanism of COVID-19 inhibition. This unusual scavenging of the superoxide radical is described using density functional theory (DFT) methods, and is supported experimentally by cyclic voltammetry and X-ray diffraction.