Glycyrrhizic Acid: A Natural Plant Product Treats COVID-19

Glycyrrhizic acid (GA), the main active compound in licorice, has been proven effective in combating SARS-CoV-2 infection. GA has adjuvant immune activity and anti-inflammatory properties. GA promotes the proliferation of T cells and has Th1 immunological adjuvant activity, thus enhancing the immune system’s resistance to SARS-CoV-2. When SARS-CoV-2 infects T lymphocytes, it remains latent in the infected host cells for 12–36 h. It has been reported that GA could induce apoptosis of the infected host cells in the latent stage. Furthermore, GA inhibits HMGB1 and NF-𝜿B thus preventing invasion and replication of SARS-CoV-2 and reducing the cytokine storm caused by the virus, respectively.


GA also helps in controlling the risk factors and COVID-19 associated inflammatory disorders. There is evidence that cholesterol assists SARS-CoV-2 to invade host cells. GA effectively reduces the cholesterol of the vascular endothelial cell membrane’s cholesterol. GA also has anti-diabetic and neuroprotective properties and reduces intestinal inflammation, and improves inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it cannot lower blood pressure and can lead to pseudoaldosteronism and hypertension by long-term treatment.


It is also observed that GA can be effectively used along with anti-COVID-19 drugs. The combination of dexamethasone and GA effectively reduces the severity of shock in animal experiments. Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) therapy is used to improve ARDS caused by COVID-19. GA effectively stimulates and enhances the natural production of NO by macrophages by upregulating the expression of the inducible NO synthase (iNOS) gene. GA is known to have hepatoprotective activity. Thus, it can be used with other drugs to reduce the side effects.


In conclusion, the role of GA in the comorbidities of COVID-19 is worthy of attention. GA can be used synergistically with other anti-COVID-19 drugs. Therefore, GA can be used as a conventional adjuvant agent to treat COVID-19.


Source: Frontiers In Pharmacology

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