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EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-309273


Background: Herbal remedies of Echinacea purpurea tinctures are widely used today to reduce common cold respiratory tract infections. Methods: A system biology approach involving genomewide transcriptome, epigenome and kinome activity profiles was applied to characterize the immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Echinacea purpurea extract Echinaforce® in THP1 monocytes. Results: Gene expression and DNA methylation analysis revealed activation of innate immunity related antiviral signaling networks, involving IFN, chemotaxis and immunometabolic pathways. Furthermore, phosphopeptide based kinome activity profiling and pharmacological inhibitor experiments with filgotinib confirm a key role for Janus Kinase (JAK)-1 dependent gene expression changes in innate immune signaling. Finally, Echinaforce® treatment induces DNA hypermethylation at intergenic CpG, long/short interspersed nuclear DNA repeat elements (LINE, SINE) or long termininal DNA repeats (LTR). This changes transcription of flanking endogenous retroviral sequences (HERVs), involved in an evolutionary conserved (epi)genomic protective response against viral infections. Conclusions: Altogether, our results suggest that Echinaforce® phytochemicals strengthen antiviral innate immunity by JAK1 responsive gene expression and epigenetic regulation of HERVs in monocytes, which supports its prophylactic use against common cold corona viruses (CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV, and new occurring strains such as SARS-CoV-2.