Flavonoids: A complementary approach to conventional therapy of COVID-19?
COVID-19, the highly contagious novel disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, has become a major international concern as it has spread quickly all over the globe. However, scientific knowledge and therapeutic treatment options for this new coronavirus remain limited. Although previous outbreaks of human coronaviruses (CoVs) such as SARS and MERS stimulated research, there are, to date, no antiviral therapeutics available that specifically target these kinds of viruses. Natural compounds with a great diversity of chemical structures may provide an alternative approach for the discovery of new antivirals. In fact, numerous flavonoids were found to have antiviral effects against SARS-and MERS-CoV by mainly inhibiting the enzymes 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) and papain-like protease (PLpro). In this review, we specifically focused on the search for flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds, which are proven to be effective against human CoVs. We therefore summarized and analyzed the latest progress in research to identify flavonoids for antiviral therapy and proposed strategies for future work on medicinal plants against coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2. We discovered quercetin, herbacetin, and isobavachalcone as the most promising flavonoids with anti-CoV potential.