Novel coronaviruses (CoV) have emerged periodically around the world in recent years. The recurrent spreading of CoVs imposes an ongoing threat to global health and the economy. Since no specific therapy for these CoVs is available, any beneficial approach (including nutritional and dietary approach) is worth investigation. Based on recent advances in nutrients and phytonutrients research, a novel combination of vitamin C, curcumin and glycyrrhizic acid (VCG Plus) was developed that has potential against CoV infection. System biology tools were applied to explore the potential of VCG Plus in modulating targets and pathways relevant to immune and inflammation responses. Gene target acquisition, gene ontology and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment were conducted consecutively along with network analysis. The results show that VCG Plus can act on 88 hub targets which are closely connected and associated with immune and inflammatory responses. Specifically, VCG Plus has the potential to regulate innate immune response by acting on NOD-like and Toll-like signaling pathways to promote interferons production, activate and balance T-cells, and regulate the inflammatory response by inhibiting PI3K/AKT, NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways. All these biological processes and pathways have been well documented in CoV infections studies. Therefore, our findings suggest that VCG Plus may be helpful in regulating immune response to combat CoV infections and inhibit excessive inflammatory responses to prevent the onset of cytokine storm. However, further in vitro and in vivo experiments are warranted to validate the current findings with system biology tools. Our current approach provides a new strategy in predicting formulation rationale when developing new dietary supplements.
Keywords: coronavirus; curcumin; glycyrrhizic acid; immune response; inflammatory response; system biology; vitamin C.