New research published on September 23, 2021, establishes the potent activity of turmeric root and its bioactive compound curcumin against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The researchers of this study published in the journal Viruses investigated the neutralizing activity of aqueous turmeric root extract, curcumin-containing nutritional supplement capsules, and pure curcumin against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro at low subtoxic concentrations.
The researchers presented the cytopathic effects (CPE) using transmitted light microscopy. In this neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 by aqueous turmeric root extract, curcumin-containing nutritional supplement capsules, and curcumin, using various dilutions, the researchers calculated the concentration required for complete virus neutralization and calculated the EC50 values.
For determining the dose-dependent antiviral activity, the researchers determined the EC50 of turmeric root extract was achieved at a dilution of 1:63.5. Comparatively, the EC50 values of the capsules and curcumin were achieved at a concentration of 7.4 micrograms (µg)/mL and 7.9 µg/mL, respectively. No cytotoxic effect was observed.
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which is caused by the spread of SARS-CoV-2, continues to increase morbidity and mortality across the world. Mitigation strategies and vaccinations have declined the infection rate and severity; however, there are limited therapeutic options that are currently available for treating COVID-19.
Traditional herbal medicines are a promising option for the complementary treatment of COVID-19. The rhizome of Curcuma longa, which is more commonly known as turmeric root, is one popular option that is associated with potent antiviral properties. Its active ingredients include curcumin (75%), demethoxycurcumin (20–25%), and bisdemethoxycurcumin (5–15%), all of which have a broad spectrum of bioactivities such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, and hepatoprotective properties.
The antiviral activity of curcumin is established against a variety of viruses including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), Influenza A, and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 (SARS-CoV-1). Few studies are also exploring its role in COVID-19 patients.
ABOUT THE STUDY
The three compounds that were tested for their in vitro efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in this study included aqueous turmeric root extract, a curcumin-containing nutritional supplement capsule, and curcumin (diferuloylmethane) from Sigma Aldrich.
To obtain the root extract, the researchers reduced the turmeric root into fragments through a grater and centrifuged it to remove the solid components. They further purified the supernatant by ultracentrifugation.
The nutritional capsule was dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and diluted in the culture medium for use. The researchers reported that one capsule contained 640 milligrams (mg) of turmeric powder, 105 mg turmeric extract (containing 99.9 mg curcumin), and 5 mg black pepper (containing 4.7 mg piperine). The curcumin alone was also dissolved and diluted similarly.
The researchers have derived SARS-CoV-2 from an isolate obtained in a clinical nasopharyngeal swab of a patient with COVID-19 who was hospitalized in April 2020 at the University Hospital in Essen. For in vitro experiments, Vero E6 cells and Calu-3 cells were used.
For the neutralization assays, different dilutions of the test compounds were preincubated with SARS-CoV-2 before incubation with the Vero E6 cells. Importantly, this is a standard in vitro model in SARS-CoV-2 research.
The researchers assessed the neutralization efficacy of curcumin against SARS-CoV-2 on human Calu-3 cells by an in-cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (icELISA)-based neutralization test (icNT). Here, incubated cells are treated with SARS-CoV-2 N-specific primary antibody, followed by secondary antibody and substrates.
For the cell viability test, the researchers performed a colorimetric assay using the Orangu cell-counting solution. For quantifying the genomic SARS-CoV-2 material, the researchers harvested the supernatant from the treated cells and purified the viral ribonucleic acid (RNA). Using primers targeting the viral membrane (M) or nucleocapsid (N) gene, the researchers quantified the SARS-CoV-2 RNA by reverse-transcription qualitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR).
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