Author: Nadjet Cornejal
Mentor: José Fernández Romero PhD
Institution: Brooklyn College
The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has killed millions of people worldwide, and there is a need to investigate prophylactics or possible treatments to prevent/treat the infection caused by the virus. Naturally occurring compounds, isolated from medicinal plants, may provide bioactive molecules with the potential to inhibit SARS-CoV-2. We studied the antiviral activity of Central American plants used in traditional medicine: Theobroma cacao, Eriobotrya japonica, Bourreria huanita, and Elettaria cardamomum. Ethanolic extraction of each plant was prepared from seeds, leaves, stems, or flowers. The cytotoxicity and antiviral activity were evaluated using XTT colorimetric assay and SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviral model. The half-maximal cytotoxic concentration (CC50) and half-maximal effective concentration (EC50) were determined for each plant extract using GraphPad Prism version 9.3.1. The therapeutic index (TI = CC50/EC50) was also calculated for each plant extract. Most plant extracts showed none to moderate selective antiviral activity with TI values between 1 and 5.5. However, T. cacao beans extract had excellent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 with a CC50 and EC50 of 425.1 and 14 µg/mL, respectively, resulting in a TI value of 30.3. Future studies will look at the phytochemical composition of this extract to identify potential active pharmaceutical ingredients.