Isolation and in silico investigation of cannflavins from Cannabis sativa leaves as potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents targeting the Papain-Like Protease

Nat Prod Res. 2023 Dec 15:1-14. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2023.2294111. Online ahead of print.


This study aimed to isolate and identify three prenylflavonoids (cannflavin A, B, and C) from Cannabis sativa leaves using different chromatographic techniques. The potential of the isolated compounds against SARS-CoV-2 was suggested through several in silico analysis. Structural similarity studies against nine co-crystallized ligands of SARS-CoV-2's proteins indicated the similarities of the isolated cannflavins with the SARS-CoV-2 Papain-Like Protease (PLP) ligand, Y95. Then, flexible allignment study confirmed this similarity. Docking experiments showed successful binding of all cannflavins within the active pocket of PLP, with energies comparable to Y95. Among them, cannflavin A demonstrated the most similar binding mode, while cannflavin C exhibited the best energy. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and MM-GPSA confirmed the accurate binding of cannflavin A to the PLP. In silico ADMET studies indicated favourable drug-like properties for all three compounds, suggesting their potential as anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents. Further In vitro and In vivo investigations are necessary to validate these findings and establish their efficacy and safety profiles.

Keywords: 3D- flexible alignment; ADMET; Cannabis sativa; MD simulations; Papain-Like Protease; SARS-CoV-2; cannflavin-A; molecular docking; molecular similarity.