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BMC Complement Med Ther ; 21(1): 141, 2021 May 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388756


BACKGROUND: Herbal remedies of Echinacea purpurea tinctures are widely used today to reduce common cold respiratory tract infections. METHODS: Transcriptome, epigenome and kinome profiling allowed a systems biology level characterisation of genomewide immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench extract in THP1 monocytes. RESULTS: Gene expression and DNA methylation analysis revealed that Echinaforce® treatment triggers antiviral innate immunity pathways, involving tonic IFN signaling, activation of pattern recognition receptors, chemotaxis and immunometabolism. 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 through tonic IFN regulation of pattern recognition and chemokine gene expression and DNA repeat hypermethylated silencing of HERVs in monocytes. These results suggest that immunomodulation by Echinaforce® treatment holds promise to reduce symptoms and duration of infection episodes of common cold corona viruses (CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV, and new occurring strains such as SARS-CoV-2, with strongly impaired interferon (IFN) response and weak innate antiviral defense.

COVID-19/drug therapy , Echinacea , Immunologic Factors/pharmacology , Monocytes/drug effects , Plant Extracts/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Gene Expression , Humans , Immunity, Innate/drug effects , Immunologic Factors/therapeutic use , Interferons/drug effects , Phytotherapy , Plant Extracts/therapeutic use