Curcumin and Boswellia serrata gum resin extract inhibit chikungunya and vesicular stomatitis virus infections in vitro

Antiviral Res. 2016 Jan;125:51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2015.11.007. Epub 2015 Dec 2.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes chikungunya fever and has infected millions of people mainly in developing countries. The associated disease is characterized by rash, high fever, and severe arthritis that can persist for years. CHIKV has adapted to Aedes albopictus, which also inhabits temperate regions including Europe and the United States of America. CHIKV has recently caused large outbreaks in Latin America. No treatment or licensed CHIKV vaccine exists. Traditional medicines are known to have anti-viral effects; therefore, we examined whether curcumin or Boswellia serrata gum resin extract have antiviral activity against CHIKV. Both compounds blocked entry of CHIKV Env-pseudotyped lentiviral vectors and inhibited CHIKV infection in vitro. In addition, vesicular stomatitis virus vector particles and viral infections were also inhibited to the same extent, indicating a broad antiviral activity. Although the bioavailability of these compounds is rather poor, they might be used as a lead structure to develop more effective antiviral drugs or might be used topically to prevent CHIKV spread in the skin after mosquito bites.

Keywords: Boswellic acid; Chikungunya virus; Curcumin; Traditional medicine; Vesicular stomatitis virus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Boswellia / chemistry*
  • Chikungunya Fever / drug therapy*
  • Chikungunya virus / drug effects*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Genetic Vectors / drug effects
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Vesicular Stomatitis / drug therapy*
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / drug effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Triterpenes
  • acetyl-11-ketoboswellic acid
  • Curcumin