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Pharmaceuticals (Basel) ; 15(3)2022 Mar 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1732153


The main protease (Mpro or 3CLpro) in coronaviruses represents a promising specific drug target as it is essential for the cleavage of the virus polypeptide and has a unique cleavage site that does not exist in human host proteases. In this study, we explored potential natural pan-coronavirus drugs using in vitro and in silico approaches and three coronavirus main proteases as treatment targets. The PyRx program was used to screen 39,442 natural-product-like compounds from the ZINC database and 121 preselected phytochemicals from medicinal plants with known antiviral activity. After assessment with Lipinski's rule of five, molecular docking was performed for the top 33 compounds of both libraries. Enzymatic assays were applied for the top candidates from both in silico approaches to test their ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Mpro. The four compounds (hypericin, rosmarinic acid, isorhamnetin, and luteolin) that most efficiently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 Mpro in vitro were further tested for their efficacy in inhibiting Mpro of SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. Microscale thermophoresis was performed to determine dissociation constant (Kd) values to validate the binding of these active compounds to recombinant Mpro proteins of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and MERS-CoV. The cytotoxicity of hypericin, rosmarinic acid, isorhamnetin, and luteolin was assessed in human diploid MRC-5 lung fibroblasts using the resazurin cell viability assay to determine their therapeutic indices. Sequence alignment of Mpro of SARS-CoV-2 demonstrated 96.08%, 50.83%, 49.17%, 48.51%, 44.04%, and 41.06% similarity to Mpro of other human-pathogenic coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-HKU1, and HCoV-229E, respectively). Molecular docking showed that 12 out of 121 compounds were bound to SARS-CoV-2 Mpro at the same binding site as the control inhibitor, GC376. Enzyme inhibition assays revealed that hypericin, rosmarinic acid, isorhamnetin, and luteolin inhibited Mpro of SARS-CoV-2, while hypericin and isorhamnetin inhibited Mpro of SARS-CoV-1; hypericin showed inhibitory effects toward Mpro of MERS-CoV. Microscale thermophoresis confirmed the binding of these compounds to Mpro with high affinity. Resazurin assays showed that rosmarinic acid and luteolin were not cytotoxic toward MRC-5 cells, whereas hypericin and isorhamnetin were slightly cytotoxic. We demonstrated that hypericin represents a potential novel pan-anti-coronaviral agent by binding to and inhibiting Mpro of several human-pathogenic coronaviruses. Moreover, isorhamnetin showed inhibitory effects toward SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 Mpro, indicating that this compound may have some pan-coronaviral potential. Luteolin had inhibitory effects against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro.

Phytomedicine ; 84: 153482, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1051912


INTRODUCTION: Approximately 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. The COVID-19 crisis may dramatically increase these numbers. Severe side effects and resistance development limit the use of standard antidepressants. The steroidal lactone withanolide A (WA) from Withania somnifera may be a promising alternative. Caenorhabditis elegans was used as model to explore WA's anti-depressive and anti-stress potential. METHODS: C. elegans wildtype (N2) and deficient strains (AQ866, DA1814, DA2100, DA2109 and MT9772) were used to assess oxidative, osmotic or heat stress as measured by generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), determination of lifespan, and mRNA expression of serotonin receptor (ser-1, ser-4, ser-7) and serotonin transporter genes (mod-5). The protective effect of WA was compared to fluoxetine as clinically established antidepressant. Additionally, WA's effect on lifespan was determined. Furthermore, the binding affinities and pKi values of WA, fluoxetine and serotonin as natural ligand to Ser-1, Ser-4, Ser-7, Mod-5 and their human orthologues proteins were calculated by molecular docking. RESULTS: Baseline oxidative stress was higher in deficient than wildtype worms. WA and fluoxetine reduced ROS levels in all strains except MT9772. WA and fluoxetine prolonged survival times in wildtype and mutants under osmotic stress. WA but not fluoxetine increased lifespan of all heat-stressed C. elegans strains except DA2100. Furthermore, WA but not fluoxetine extended lifespan in all non-stressed C. elegans strains. WA also induced mRNA expression of serotonin receptors and transporters in wildtype and mutants. WA bound with higher affinity and lower pKi values to all C. elegans and human serotonin receptors and transporters than serotonin, indicating that WA may competitively displaced serotonin from the binding pockets of these proteins. CONCLUSION: WA reduced stress and increased lifespan by ROS scavenging and interference with the serotonin system. Hence, WA may serve as promising candidate to treat depression.

Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins/genetics , Caenorhabditis elegans/drug effects , Longevity/drug effects , Receptors, Serotonin/genetics , Withanolides/pharmacology , Animals , Caenorhabditis elegans/physiology , Fluoxetine/pharmacology , Gene Knockout Techniques , Molecular Docking Simulation , Oxidative Stress/drug effects , Plant Extracts/pharmacology , Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism , Receptors, Serotonin/metabolism , Withania/chemistry