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Bioactive compounds from Huashi Baidu decoction possess both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects against COVID-19

Xu et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.2301775120
Apr 2023  
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Quercetin for COVID-19
24th treatment shown to reduce risk in July 2021
*, now known with p = 0.0031 from 11 studies.
No treatment is 100% effective. Protocols combine complementary and synergistic treatments. * >10% efficacy in meta analysis with ≥3 clinical studies.
4,000+ studies for 60+ treatments.
In Vitro study of compounds from Huashi Baidu (Q-14), showing dose-dependent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 with quercetin. Authors also perform a mouse study showing that Q-14 decreases SARS-CoV-2 viral load and reduces pulmonary inflammation.
Among 60 compounds, six (magnolol, glycyrrhisoflavone, licoisoflavone A, emodin, echinatin, and quercetin) showed dose-dependent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2, including two Mpro inhibitors (echinatin and quercetin) and two RdRp inhibitors (glycyrrhisoflavone and licoisoflavone A).
Followup studies Xu, Yan collectively show that quercetin and echinatin had only weak SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibition in SDS-PAGE assays Xu, but false positive FRET results from MCA-AVLQ quenching Xu, Yan. Authors note that the compounds may act via other targets to achieve reported anti-COVID-19 effects Xu, and underscore the importance of meticulous validation with multiple assays when identifying SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitors Xu, Yan.
In Silico studies predict inhibition of SARS-CoV-2, or minimization of side effects, with quercetin or metabolites via binding to the spike Note A, Alavi, Azmi (B), Chandran, Kandeil, Mandal, Moschovou, Nguyen, Pan, Thapa (B), Şimşek, Mpro Note B, Akinwumi, Alanzi, Ibeh, Kandeil, Mandal, Moschovou, Nguyen, Qin, Rehman, Sekiou (B), Singh, Thapa (B), Wang, Zhang, Shaik, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase Note C, Corbo, PLpro Note D, Ibeh, Zhang, ACE2 Note E, Chandran, Ibeh, Qin, Thapa (B), Şimşek, Alkafaas, TMPRSS2 Note F, Chandran, helicase Note G, Alanzi, Singh (B), endoribonuclease Note H, Alavi, cathepsin L Note I, Ahmed, Wnt-3 Note J, Chandran, FZD Note K, Chandran, LRP6 Note L, Chandran, ezrin Note M, Chellasamy, ADRP Note N, Nguyen, NRP1 Note O, Şimşek, EP300 Note P, Hasanah, PTGS2 Note Q, Qin, HSP90AA1 Note R, Qin, Hasanah, matrix metalloproteinase 9 Note S, Sai Ramesh, IL-6 Note T, Yang, Yang (B), IL-10 Note U, Yang, VEGFA Note V, Yang (B), and RELA Note W, Yang (B) proteins. In Vitro studies demonstrate efficacy in Calu-3 Note X, DiGuilio, A549 Note Y, Yang, HEK293-ACE2+ Note Z, Singh (C), Huh-7 Note AA, Pan, Caco-2 Note AB, Roy, Vero E6 Note AC, Kandeil, El-Megharbel, Roy, mTEC Note AD, Wu, and RAW264.7 Note AE, Wu cells. Animal studies demonstrate efficacy in K18-hACE2 mice Note AF, Aguado, db/db mice Note AG, Wu, Wu (B), BALB/c mice Note AH, Shaker, and rats El-Megharbel (B). Quercetin reduced proinflammatory cytokines and protected lung and kidney tissue against LPS-induced damage in mice Shaker.
Xu et al., 24 Apr 2023, China, peer-reviewed, 33 authors. Contact:,
In Vitro studies are an important part of preclinical research, however results may be very different in vivo.
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AI generated summary. Current AI models can provide useful summaries for non-experts, but may be inaccurate and have limited ability to analyze larger context such as the entire evidence base for quercetin.
  • Huashi Baidu decoction (HBF) is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formula that has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • In this study, the researchers identified six bioactive compounds from HBF that have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • The researchers also found that HBF was able to inhibit the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture and in mice.
  • COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • There are a number of anti-COVID-19 drugs available, but they are not always effective.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19, and Huashi Baidu decoction (HBF) is a TCM formula that has been shown to have both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • In this study, the researchers identified six bioactive compounds from HBF that have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • These compounds include magnolol, glycyrrhisoflavone, licoisoflavone A, emodin, echinatin, and quercetin.
  • The researchers also found that HBF was able to inhibit the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture and in mice.
  • These findings suggest that HBF could be a promising new treatment for COVID-19.

The researchers concluded that HBF is a promising new treatment for COVID-19 because it has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. They also suggested that further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of HBF in clinical trials.

Bioactive compounds from Huashi Baidu decoction possess both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects against COVID-19
Haiyu Xu, Shufen Li, Jiayuan Liu, Jinlong Cheng, Liping Kang, Weijie Li, Yute Zhong, Chaofa Wei, Lifeng Fu, Jianxun Qi, Yulan Zhang, Miaomiao You, Zhenxing Zhou, Chongtao Zhang, Haixia Su, Sheng Yao, Zhaoyin Zhou, Yulong Shi, Ran Deng, Qi Lv, Fengdi Li, Feifei Qi, Jie Chen, Siqin Zhang, Xiaojing Ma, Zhijian Xu, Shao Li, Yechun Xu, Ke Peng, Yi Shi, Hualiang Jiang, George F Gao, Luqi Huang
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.2301775120
Significance Huashi Baidu decoction (Q-14), a famous traditional Chinese medicine decoction for COVID-19, has good effects on SARS-CoV-2 RNA clearance, promoting lung lesion opacity absorption, reducing inflammation, and ameliorating flu-like symptoms based on a series of clinical trials, having potent antiviral and antiinflammatory effects. However, due to the lack of systematic and in-depth research, little significant progress has been made in the study of TCMT-NDRD of HBF for COVID-19 management. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to identify key antiviral and anti-inflammatory bioactive compounds from HBF based on an integrative pharmacological strategy. These findings will greatly stimulate the traditional Chinese medicine theory-driven natural drug discovery against COVID-19 and promote the modern research of Chinese medicine.
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