This study focuses on the antiviral activity of selected flavonoids against the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause incapacitating arthritis in infected individuals. Based on the results of screening on Vero cells, the tested compounds were evaluated further with various assays, including cytotoxicity assay, virus yield assay by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), virus RNA replication assay with a CHIKV replicon cell line, Western blotting, and quantitative immunofluorescence assay. Baicalein, fisetin, and quercetagetin displayed potent inhibition of CHIKV infection, with 50% inhibitory concentrations [IC50] of 1.891 μg/ml (6.997 μM), 8.444 μg/ml (29.5 μM), and 13.85 μg/ml (43.52 μM), respectively, and with minimal cytotoxicity. The time-of-addition studies and various antiviral assays demonstrated that baicalein and quercetagetin mainly inhibited CHIKV binding to the Vero cells and displayed potent activity against extracellular CHIKV particles. The qRT-PCR, immunofluorescence assay, and Western blot analyses indicated that each of these flavonoids affects CHIKV RNA production and viral protein expression. These data provide the first evidence of the intracellular anti-CHIKV activity of baicalein, fisetin, and quercetagetin.
The mosquito-borne chikungunya virus (CHIKV) causes chikungunya fever, with clinical presentations such as severe back and small joint pain, and debilitating arthritis associated with crippling pains that persist for weeks and even years. Although there are several studies to evaluate the efficacy of drugs against CHIKV, the treatment for chikungunya fever is mainly symptom-based and no effective licensed vaccine or antiviral are available. Here, we investigated the antiviral activity of three types of flavonoids against CHIKV in vitro replication. Three compounds: silymarin, quercetin and kaempferol were evaluated for their in vitro antiviral activities against CHIKV using a CHIKV replicon cell line and clinical isolate of CHIKV of Central/East African genotype. A cytopathic effect inhibition assay was used to determine their activities on CHIKV viral replication and quantitative reverse transcription PCR was used to calculate virus yield. Antiviral activity of effective compound was further investigated by evaluation of CHIKV protein expression using western blotting for CHIKV nsP1, nsP3, and E2E1 proteins. Briefly, silymarin exhibited significant antiviral activity against CHIKV, reducing both CHIKV replication efficiency and down-regulating production of viral proteins involved in replication. This study may have important consequence for broaden the chance of getting the effective antiviral for CHIKV infection.