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Papers of the Week

2021 Jun 23

Int J Mol Sci



Comparative Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cortex Extracts and Acetylsalicylic Acid in SARS-CoV-2 Peptide and LPS-Activated Human In Vitro Systems.


Le N P K, Herz C, Gomes J V D, Förster N, Antoniadou K, Mittermeier-Kleßinger V K, Mewis I, Dawid C, Ulrichs C, Lamy E
Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 23; 22(13).
PMID: 34201817.


The usefulness of anti-inflammatory drugs as an adjunct therapy to improve outcomes in COVID-19 patients is intensely discussed in this paper. Willow bark ( cortex) has been used for centuries to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever. Its main active ingredient, salicin, is metabolized in the human body into salicylic acid, the precursor of the commonly used pain drug acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Here, we report on the in vitro anti-inflammatory efficacy of two methanolic extracts, standardized to phenolic compounds, in comparison to ASA in the context of a SARS-CoV-2 peptide challenge. Using SARS-CoV-2 peptide/IL-1β- or LPS-activated human PBMCs and an inflammatory intestinal Caco-2/HT29-MTX co-culture, extracts, and ASA concentration-dependently suppressed prostaglandin E2 (PGE), a principal mediator of inflammation. The inhibition of COX-2 enzyme activity, but not protein expression was observed for ASA and one extract. In activated PBMCs, the suppression of relevant cytokines (i.e., IL-6, IL-1β, and IL-10) was seen for both extracts. The anti-inflammatory capacity of extracts was still retained after transepithelial passage and liver cell metabolism in an advanced co-culture model system consisting of intestinal Caco-2/HT29-MTX cells and differentiated hepatocyte-like HepaRG cells. Taken together, our in vitro data suggest that extracts might present an additional anti-inflammatory treatment option in the context of SARS-CoV-2 peptides challenge; however, more confirmatory data are needed.