The Inhibitory Effects of the Herbals Secondary Metabolites (7α-acetoxyroyleanone, Curzerene, Incensole, Harmaline, and Cannabidiol) on COVID-19: A Molecular Docking Study

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“Background: Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, researchers and studies are continuing to find drugs and/or vaccines against the disease. As shown before, medicinal plants can be very good sources against viruses because of their secondary compounds which may cure diseases and help in survival of patients. There is a growing trend in the filed patents in this field.

Aims: In the present study, we test and suggest the inhibitory potential of five herbal based extracts including 7α-acetoxyroyleanone, Curzerene, Incensole, Harmaline, and Cannabidiol with antivirus activity on the models of the significant antiviral targets for COVID-19 like spike glycoprotein, Papain-like protease (PLpro), non-structural protein 15 (NSP15), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and core protease by molecular docking study.

Methods: The Salvia rythida root was extracted, dried, and pulverized by a milling machine. The aqueous phase and the dichloromethane phase of the root extractive were separated by two-phase extraction using a separatory funnel. The separation was performed using the column chromatography method. The model of the important antivirus drug target of COVID-19 was obtained from the Protein Data Bank (PDB) and modified. TO study the binding difference between the studied molecules, the docking study was performed.

Results: These herbal compounds are extracted from Salvia rhytidea, Curcuma zeodaria, Frankincense, Peganum harmala, and Cannabis herbs, respectively. The binding energies of all compounds on COVID-19 main targets are located in the limited area of 2.22-5.30 kcal/mol. This range of binding energies can support our hypothesis for the presence of the inhibitory effects of the secondary metabolites of mentioned structures on COVID-19. Generally, among the investigated herbal structures, Cannabidiol and 7α- acetoxyroyleanone compounds with the highest binding energy have the most inhibitory potential. The least inhibitory effects are related to the Curzerene and Incensole structures by the lowest binding affinity.

Conclusion: The general arrangement of the basis of the potential barrier of binding energies is in the order below: Cannabidiol > 7α-acetoxyroyleanone > Harmaline> Incensole > Curzerene. Finally, the range of docking scores for investigated herbal compounds on the mentioned targets indicates that the probably inhibitory effects on these targets obey the following order: main protease> RNA-dependent RNA polymerase> PLpro> NSP15> spike glycoprotein.”

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