Effective inhibition of coronavirus replication by Polygonum cuspidatum

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2021 Oct 30;26(10):789-798. doi: 10.52586/4988.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has infected more than 210 million individuals globally and resulted in over 4 million deaths since the first report in December 2019. The early use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for light and ordinary patients, can rapidly improve symptoms, shorten hospitalization days and reduce severe cases transformed from light and normal. Many TCM formulas and products have a wide application in treating infectious and non-infectious diseases. Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb. et Zucc. (P. cuspidatum), is an important Traditional Chinese Medicine with actions of clearing away heat and eliminating dampness, draining the gallbladder to relieve jaundice, removing blood stasis to alleviate pain, resolving phlegm and arrest cough. In the search for anti-SARS-CoV-2, P. cuspidatum was recommended as as a therapeutic drug of COVID-19 pneumonia.In this study, we aimed to identifies P. cuspidatum is the potential broad-spectrum inhibitor for the treatment of coronaviruses infections. Methods: In the present study , we infected human malignant embryonal rhabdomyoma (RD) cells with the OC43 strain of the coronavirus, which represent an alternative model for SARS-CoV-2 and then employed the cell viability assay kit for the antiviral activity. We combined computer aided virtual screening to predicte the binding site and employed Surface plasmon resonance analysis (SPR) to comfirm the interaction between drugs and coronavirus. We employed fluorescence resonance energy transfer technology to identify drug's inhibition in the proteolytic activity of 3CLpro and Plpro. Results: Based on our results, polydatin and resveratrol derived from P. cuspidatum significantly suppressed HCoV-OC43 replication. 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of polydatin inhibited SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and Plpro, MERS Mpro and Plpro were 18.66, 125, 14.6 and 25.42 μm, respectively. IC50 values of resveratrol inhibited SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and Plpro, MERS Mpro and Plpro were 29.81 ,60.86, 16.35 and19.04 μM, respectively. Finally, SPR assay confirmed that polydatin and resveratrol had high affinity to SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV 3Clpro, MERS-CoV 3Clpro and PLpro protein. Conclusions: we identified the antiviral activity of flavonoids polydatin and resveratrol on RD cells. Polydatin and resveratrol were found to be specific and selective inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2, 3CLpro and PLpro, viral cysteine proteases. In summary, this study identifies P. cuspidatum as the potential broad-spectrum inhibitor for the treatment of coronaviruses infections.

Keywords: Broad-spectrum; Coronavirus; Main protease; OC43-CoV; P. cuspidatum; Papain-like protease; Polydatin; Resveratrol; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / chemistry*
  • Fallopia japonica / chemistry*
  • Glucosides / metabolism
  • Glucosides / pharmacology*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods
  • Pandemics
  • Protein Binding
  • Resveratrol / metabolism
  • Resveratrol / pharmacology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Stilbenes / metabolism
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance / methods
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Glucosides
  • Stilbenes
  • Viral Proteins
  • Resveratrol
  • polydatin