SARS-CoV-2 Infection may be Prevented with Cytochrome Inhibitors: Cobicistat and Ritonavir

Çelik İ., Gülten E., Beşikci A., Çınar G., Akdemir Kalkan İ., Kılcıgil G., ...More

Infectious diseases and clinical microbiology (Online), vol.2022, no.4, pp.185-191, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Objective: Highly contagious character of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the lack of specific drugs have led many scientists worldwide to re-evaluate the molecules currently in use for other diseases/viruses. Thus, high-throughput screening with docking studies has the rationale to identify potential therapeutics from existing drug molecules. Conflicting results of the studies, including SARS-CoV-2 and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfected population, suggested a possible preventive effect of antiretroviral regimens they have been receiving. 

Materials and Methods: Interactions between the widely used antiretroviral molecules, in particular; abacavir, cobicistat, dolutegravir, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, lamivudine, raltegravir, and tenofovir, and the main proteins on SARS-CoV-2 that may be targeted for SARS-CoV-2 infection were analyzed using molecular docking studies.  

Results: Analysis of the compounds strikingly revealed that not the antiretroviral drugs but cobicistat and ritonavir, the inhibitors of cytochrome P450, had strong interactions with the main protease active site and RNA polymerase on SARS-CoV-2, as well as the active site of angiotensin-converting–enzyme 2, the protein that enables the entry of the virus into human cells.  

Conclusion: Our results suggest cobicistat and ritonavir may be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Keywords: antiretroviral therapy, cobicistat, ritonavir, SARS-CoV-2