Microbiology & Infectious Diseases

Open Access ISSN: 2639-9458


Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Primate Epithelial Cells

Authors: Brett L. Hurst, Douglas Dickinson, Stephen Hsu

SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, caused >26 million cases in the United States and >437,000 deaths as of Jan 30, 2020. Worldwide by that date, there had been 102 million cases of infections, and deaths had climbed to 2.21 million. Mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have emerged from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa are associated with higher transmission rates and associated deaths. Therefore, novel therapeutic and prophylactic methods against SARS-CoV-2 are in urgent need. While some antiviral drugs, such as Remdesivir, provide relief to certain patient populations, other existing antiviral drugs or combinations of FDA approved pharmaceuticals have yet to show clinical efficacy against COVID-19. Compounds that possess strong and broad antiviral properties with different mechanisms of action against respiratory viruses may provide novel approaches to combat SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, especially if the compounds are classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). A large body of evidence indicates a promising potential for the use of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and its derivatives as effective agents against infections from a wide range of pathogenic viruses. However, EGCG or its derivatives have not been tested directly against SARS-CoV-2. The current study was designed to evaluate the potential antiviral activity of EGCG against SARS-CoV-2 infection in primate epithelial cells. Methods applied in the study include cytopathic effect (CPE) assay and virus yield reduction (VYR) assays using Vero 76 (green monkey epithelial cells) and Caco-2 (human epithelial cells) cell lines, respectively. The results demonstrated that EGCG at 0.27 µg/ml (0.59 µM) inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in Vero 76 cells by 50% (i.e., EC50=0.27 µg/ml). EGCG also inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in Caco-2 cells with EC90=28 µg/ml (61 µM). These results, to the best of our knowledge, are the first observations on the antiviral activities of EGCG against SARS-CoV-2, and suggest that EGCG and its derivatives could be used to combat COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infection-induced illness, pending in vivo and clinical studies.

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