Antiviral activity of 5-aminolevulinic acid against variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

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Abstract

Background: Genetic variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) began to emerge in 2020 and have been spreading globally during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite the presence of different COVID-19 vaccines, the discovery of effective antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 are still urgently needed. A natural amino acid, 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), has exhibited both antiviral and anti-inflammatory activities. In a previous study, we demonstrated an in vitro antiviral effect of 5-ALA against SARS-CoV-2 infection without significant cytotoxicity. In the present study, we sought to investigate whether 5-ALA with or without sodium ferrous citrate (SFC) can inhibit in vitro both the original SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and its variants, including the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta strains. Methods: The antiviral activity of ALA with or without SFC was determined in Vero-E6 cell. The virus inhibition was quantified by real time RT-PCR. Results: Co-administration of 5-ALA and SFC inhibited the Wuhan, Alpha and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 with IC50 values of 235, 173 and 397 µM, respectively, and the Beta and Gamma variants with IC50 values of 1311 and 1516 µM. Conclusion: Our study suggests that 5-ALA with SFC warrants accelerated clinical evaluation as an antiviral drug candidate for treating patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants.

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Ngwe Tun, M. M., Sakura, T., Sakurai, Y., Kurosaki, Y., Inaoka, D. K., Shioda, N., … Morita, K. (2022). Antiviral activity of 5-aminolevulinic acid against variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Tropical Medicine and Health, 50(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41182-021-00397-x

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