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Glycyrrhizin effectively neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 in vitro by inhibiting the viral main protease

Glycyrrhizin effectively neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 in vitro by inhibiting the viral main protease

29 Dec
Posted By: Pavel Times Read: 1072

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory recently published an article about a new study investigating the effectiveness of licorice against the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The main findings of this study will be outlined here. the full version of the article can be found at the link below.

The newly emerged coronavirus, which was designated as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of the COVID-19 disease. Even presymptomatic patients or patients with mild symptoms are able to infect other people. Highly effective and well-tolerated medication for hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients is urgently needed. Besides compounds that were initially approved for the treatment of other viral infections such as remdesivir, traditional herbal medicine substances were discussed as promising candidates for the complementary treatment of viral diseases and recently suggested for the treatment of COVID-19.

In the present study, we investigated aqueous licorice root extract for its neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, identified the active compound glycyrrhizin and uncovered the respective mechanism of viral neutralization.

Dried licorice roots were brewed in PBS at a concentration of 8 mg/ml (w/v) and the fluid was subsequently sterile filtered to obtain an aqueous licorice root extract. The neutralization capacity of licorice root extract was determined in cell culture by endpoint dilution. The aqueous licorice root extract showed neutralizing effects on SARS-CoV-2 even at a subtoxic concentration of 2 mg/ml. This concentration is lower than the normal consuming dilution e.g. in tea (12.5 mg/ml). Although licorice root tea may represent a good candidate for complementary use, the identification and characterization of the active compound is of great importance for a potential clinical application.

Glycyrrhizic acid is found in high concentrations in the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant. It was described as an antiviral active ingredient of the licorice root and exhibits antiviral activity against herpes simplex viruses, the human immunodeficiency virus as well as human and animal coronaviruses. Based on our results with the aqueous licorice root extract, we investigated the antiviral activity of glycyrrhizin acid against a clinical SARS-CoV-2 isolate and subsequently examined the underlying mechanism of viral neutralization.

We demonstrated that glycyrrhizin exhibited a high antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. We investigated the underlying mechanism how glycyrrhizin may interfere with the virus replication. The human transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2) was shown to cleave the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein thereby facilitating the virus entry into the host cell. We concluded that glycyrrhizin neutralizes the virus.

Glycyrrhizin was clinically evaluated in the context of a clinical trial and described to be a safe and well-tolerated compound. The pharmacological effects include antioxidative and anti-inflammatory, corticosteroid-like activities. The potent antiviral activity as well as anti-inflammatory properties highlight glycyrrhizin as an excellent candidate for further clinical investigations in COVID-19 treatment. A case report described compassionate use of glycyrrhizin among other potential antivirals for the treatment of COVID-1910. Although the patient recovered from disease, further controlled studies are needed to prove the therapeutic effects of glycyrrhizin in COVID-19.

Taken together, we demonstrated that glycyrrhizin, the primary active ingredient of the licorice root, potently neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by inhibiting the viral main protease. Our experiments highlight glycyrrhizin as a potential antiviral compound that should be further investigated for the treatment of COVID-19.

Read the full article on https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.12.18.423104v1.full

Learn more about Licorice on https://www.hawaiipharm.com/licorice

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