Luteolin: a blocker of SARS-CoV-2 cell entry based on relaxed complex scheme, molecular dynamics simulation, and metadynamics

J Mol Model. 2021 Jul 8;27(8):221. doi: 10.1007/s00894-021-04833-x.


Natural products have served human life as medications for centuries. During the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of naturally derived compounds and extracts have been tested or used as potential remedies against COVID-19. Tetradenia riparia extract is one of the plant extracts that have been deployed and claimed to manage and control COVID-19 by some communities in Tanzania and other African countries. The active compounds isolated from T. riparia are known to possess various biological properties including antimalarial and antiviral. However, the underlying mechanism of the active compounds against SARS-CoV-2 remains unknown. Results in the present work have been interpreted from the view point of computational methods including molecular dynamics, free energy methods, and metadynamics to establish the related mechanism of action. Among the constituents of T. riparia studied, luteolin inhibited viral cell entry and was thermodynamically stable. The title compound exhibit residence time and unbinding kinetics of 68.86 ms and 0.014 /ms, respectively. The findings suggest that luteolin could be potent blocker of SARS-CoV-2 cell entry. The study shades lights towards identification of bioactive constituents from T. riparia against COVID-19, and thus bioassay can be carried out to further validate such observations.

Keywords: COVID-19; Docking; Luteolin; Metadynamics; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Binding Sites
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lamiaceae / chemistry
  • Luteolin / isolation & purification
  • Luteolin / metabolism
  • Luteolin / pharmacology*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / metabolism
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Luteolin