BioScience Trends. 2023;17(1):14-20. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01534)

Herbal medicines exhibit a high affinity for ACE2 in treating COVID-19

Zhang B, Qi FH


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been an unprecedented disaster for people around the world. A point particularly worth noting is that herbal medicines have made great contributions to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in China. Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been identified as the critical functional receptor for SARS-CoV-2. It can bind to the receptorbinding domain (RBD) of the spike protein (S protein), which is responsible for the entry of the coronavirus into host cells. Therefore, ACE2 can be regarded as an important intervention target for COVID-19. Recently, many herbal medicines have exhibited a high affinity for ACE2 in treating COVID-19. The current work summarized these herbal medicines including formulas (such as Lianhua Qingwen capsules, Xuebijing injection, Qingfei Paidu Decoction, Huashi Baidu formula, Shufeng Jiedu capsules, and Maxing Shigan decoction), single herbs including Ephedra sinica Stapf (Mahuang), Scutellariae radix (Huangqin), Lonicera japonica (Jinyinhua), and Houttuynia cordata (Yuxingcao), and active ingredients (such as ursodeoxycholic acid, glycyrrhizic acid, glycyrrhizin, salvianolic acid, quercetin, and andrographidine C), which have exhibited a high affinity for ACE2 in treating COVID-19. We hope this work may provide meaningful and useful information on further research to investigate the mechanisms of herbal medicines against SARS-CoV-2 and follow-up drug discovery.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, herbal medicines, ACE2, S protein

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