Tomatidine, a natural steroidal alkaloid shows antiviral activity towards chikungunya virus in vitro.
Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 14 ;10(1):6364. Epub 2020 Apr 14. PMID: 32286447
In recent decades, chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has re-emerged, leading to outbreaks of chikungunya fever in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. The disease is characterized by a rapid onset febrile illness with (poly)arthralgia, myalgia, rashes, headaches and nausea. In 30 to 40% of the cases, CHIKV infection causes persistent (poly)arthralgia, lasting for months or even years after initial infection. Despite the drastic re-emergence and clinical impact there is no vaccine nor antiviral compound available to prevent or control CHIKV infection. Here, we evaluated the antiviral potential of tomatidine towards CHIKV infection. We demonstrate that tomatidine potently inhibits virus particle production of multiple CHIKV strains. Time-of -addition experiments in Huh7 cells revealed that tomatidine acts at a post-entry step of the virus replication cycle. Furthermore, a marked decrease in the number of CHIKV-infected cells was seen, suggesting that tomatidine predominantly acts early in infection yet after virus attachment and cell entry. Antiviral activity was still detected at 24 hours post-infection, indicating that tomatidine controls multiple rounds of CHIKV replication. Solasodine and sarsasapogenin, two structural derivatives of tomatidine, also showed strong albeit less potent antiviral activity towards CHIKV. In conclusion, this study identifies tomatidine as a novel compound to combat CHIKV infection in vitro.