Pharmacological perspective: glycyrrhizin may be an efficacious therapeutic agent for COVID-19

Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2020 Jun;55(6):105995. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105995. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the previously unknown pathogen, severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is now a global pandemic. There are no vaccines or specific treatments against this new virus; therefore, there is an urgent need to advance novel therapeutic interventions for COVID-19. Glycyrrhizin is a triterpene saponin with various biological functions and pharmacological effects. This brief article discusses the therapeutic potential of glycyrrhizin for the treatment of COVID-19 from the perspective of its pharmacological action, including binding angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2), downregulating proinflammatory cytokines, inhibiting the accumulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), inhibiting thrombin, inhibiting the hyperproduction of airway exudates, and inducing endogenous interferon.

Keywords: COVID-19; Glycyrrhizin; SARS-COV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / biosynthesis
  • Interferons / immunology
  • Pandemics
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virus Attachment / drug effects
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glycyrrhizic Acid
  • Interferons
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 drug treatment