Posted: 2021-11-05 19:00:00
Ethnopharmacological relevance: For millennia, Artemisia annua L. was used in Southeast Asia to treat "fever". This medicinal plant is effective against multiple pathogens and is used by many global communities as a source of artemisinin derivatives that are first-line drugs to treat malaria caused by Plasmodium parasites. Aim of the study: The SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) global pandemic has killed millions and evolved numerous variants, with delta being the most transmissible to date and causing break-through infections of vaccinated individuals. We further queried the efficacy of A. annua cultivars against new variants. Materials and methods: Using Vero E6 cells, we measured anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of dried-leaf hot-water A. annua L. extracts of four cultivars, A3, BUR, MED, and SAM, to determine their efficacy against five infectious variants of the virus: alpha (B.1.1.7), beta (B.1.351), gamma (P.1), delta (B.1.617.2), and kappa (B.1.617.1). Results: In addition to being effective against the original wild type (WT) WA1, A. annua cultivars A3, BUR, MED, and SAM were also potent against all five variants. IC50 and IC90 values based on measured artemisinin content ranged from 0.3 to 8.4 μM and 1.4-25.0 μM, respectively. The IC50 and IC90 values based on dried leaf weight (DW) used to make the tea infusions ranged from 11.0 to 67.7 μg DW and 59.5-160.6 μg DW, respectively. Cell toxicity was insignificant at a leaf dry weight of ≤50 μg in the extract of any cultivar. Conclusions: Results suggest that oral consumption of A. annua hot-water extracts (tea infusions) could potentially provide a cost-effective therapy to help stave off the rapid global spread of these variants, buying time for broader implementation of vaccines. Keywords: Artemisinin; Covid-19; Delta variant; Gamma variant; Kappa variant; SARS-CoV-2.
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