Curcumin inhibits Zika and chikungunya virus infection by inhibiting cell binding

Antiviral Res. 2017 Jun;142:148-157. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2017.03.014. Epub 2017 Mar 24.


Several compounds extracted from spices and herbs exhibit antiviral effects in vitro, suggesting potential pharmacological uses. Curcumin, a component of turmeric, has been used as a food additive and herbal supplement due to its potential medicinal properties. Previously, curcumin exhibited antiviral properties against several viruses, including dengue virus and hepatitis C virus, among others. Here, we describe the antiviral effect of curcumin on Zika and chikungunya viruses, two mosquito-borne outbreak viruses. Both viruses responded to treatment of cells with up to 5 μM curumin without impacting cellular viability. We observed that direct treatment of virus with curcumin reduced infectivity of virus in a dose- and time-dependent manner for these enveloped viruses, as well as vesicular stomatitis virus. In contrast, we found no change in infectivity for Coxsackievirus B3, a non-enveloped virus. Derivatives of curcumin also exhibited antiviral activity against enveloped viruses. Further examination revealed that curcumin interfered with the binding of the enveloped viruses to cells in a dose-dependent manner, though the integrity of the viral RNA was maintained. Together, these results expand the family of viruses sensitive to curcumin and provide a mechanism of action for curcumin's effect on these enveloped viruses.

Keywords: Curcumin; Enveloped virus; Viral binding.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chikungunya Fever / drug therapy
  • Chikungunya virus / drug effects*
  • Chikungunya virus / genetics
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enterovirus / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • RNA, Viral / drug effects
  • Vero Cells
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / drug effects
  • Virus Attachment / drug effects*
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects
  • Zika Virus / drug effects*
  • Zika Virus / genetics
  • Zika Virus Infection / drug therapy


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Curcumin