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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (6): 488-496.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.08.001

Special Issue: COVID-19

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Potential medicinal plants involved in inhibiting 3CLpro activity: A practical alternate approach to combating COVID-19

Fan Yang a, Xiao-lan Jiang a, Akash Tariq b, Sehrish Sadia c, Zeeshan Ahmed b, Jordi Sardans d,e, Muhammad Aleem c, Riaz Ullah f, Rainer W. Bussmann g   

  1. a The Medical Center of General Practice, Sichuan Academy of Medical Science and Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan Province, China
    b Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830041, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China
    c Department of Biological Sciences, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Ravi Campus, Pattoki 55300, Pakistan
    d Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Global Ecology Unit, Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 08193 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
    e Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications, Cerdanyola del Vallès 08193, Catalonia, Spain
    f Department of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
    g Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, llia State University, Tbilisi 0105, Georgia
  • Received:2022-01-27 Accepted:2022-06-29 Online:2022-11-15 Published:2022-08-09
  • Contact: Xiao-lan; Akash

At present, a variety of vaccines have been approved, and existing antiviral drugs are being tested to find an effective treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, no standardized treatment has yet been approved by the World Health Organization. The virally encoded chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which facilitates the replication of SARS-CoV in the host cells, is one potential pharmacological target for the development of anti-SARS drugs. Online search engines, such as Web of Science, Google Scholar, Scopus and PubMed, were used to retrieve data on the traditional uses of medicinal plants and their inhibitory effects against the SARS-CoV 3CLpro. Various pure compounds, including polyphenols, terpenoids, chalcones, alkaloids, biflavonoids, flavanones, anthraquinones and glycosides, have shown potent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro activity with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values ranging from 2–44 μg/mL. Interestingly, most of these active compounds, including xanthoangelol E (isolated from Angelica keiskei), dieckol 1 (isolated from Ecklonia cava), amentoflavone (isolated from Torreya nucifera), celastrol, pristimerin, tingenone and iguesterin (isolated from Tripterygium regelii), tannic acid (isolated from Camellia sinensis), and theaflavin-3,3'-digallate, 3-isotheaflavin-3 gallate and dihydrotanshinone I (isolated from Salvia miltiorrhiza), had IC50 values of less than 15 μg/mL. Kinetic mechanistic studies of several active compounds revealed that their mode of inhibition was dose-dependent and competitive, with Ki values ranging from 2.4–43.8 μmol/L. Given the significance of plant-based compounds and the many promising results obtained, there is still need to explore the phytochemical and mechanistic potentials of plants and their products. These medicinal plants could serve as an effective inexpensive nutraceutical for the general public to help manage COVID-19.

Key words: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus 3C proteases, Medicinal plants, Plant-derived compounds, Drug development

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