High-content screening of Thai medicinal plants reveals Boesenbergia rotunda extract and its component Panduratin A as anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 17;10(1):19963. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77003-3.


Since December 2019, the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused severe pneumonia, a disease named COVID-19, that became pandemic and created an acute threat to public health. The effective therapeutics are in urgent need. Here, we developed a high-content screening for the antiviral candidates using fluorescence-based SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein detection in Vero E6 cells coupled with plaque reduction assay. Among 122 Thai natural products, we found that Boesenbergia rotunda extract and its phytochemical compound, panduratin A, exhibited the potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity. Treatment with B. rotunda extract and panduratin A after viral infection drastically suppressed SARS-CoV-2 infectivity in Vero E6 cells with IC50 of 3.62 μg/mL (CC50 = 28.06 µg/mL) and 0.81 μΜ (CC50 = 14.71 µM), respectively. Also, the treatment of panduratin A at the pre-entry phase inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection with IC50 of 5.30 µM (CC50 = 43.47 µM). Our study demonstrated, for the first time, that panduratin A exerts the inhibitory effect against SARS-CoV-2 infection at both pre-entry and post-infection phases. Apart from Vero E6 cells, treatment with this compound was able to suppress viral infectivity in human airway epithelial cells. This result confirmed the potential of panduratin A as the anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent in the major target cells in human. Since B. rotunda is a culinary herb generally grown in China and Southeast Asia, its extract and the purified panduratin A may serve as the promising candidates for therapeutic purposes with economic advantage during COVID-19 situation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chalcones / pharmacology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Humans
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Replication
  • Zingiberaceae / chemistry


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Chalcones
  • panduratin A