Atovaquone and berberine chloride reduce sars-cov-2 replication in vitro

Bruno A. Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Maria G. Noval, Maria E. Kaczmarek, Kyung Ku Jang, Sara A. Thannickal, Angelica Cifuentes Kottkamp, Rebecca S. Brown, Margaret Kielian, Ken Cadwell, Kenneth A. Stapleford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Epidemic RNA viruses seem to arise year after year leading to countless infections and devastating disease. SARS-CoV-2 is the most recent of these viruses, but there will undoubtedly be more to come. While effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are being deployed, one approach that is still missing is effective antivirals that can be used at the onset of infections and therefore prevent pandemics. Here, we screened FDA-approved compounds against SARS-CoV-2. We found that atovaquone, a pyrimidine biosynthesis inhibitor, is able to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung cells. In addition, we found that berberine chloride, a plant-based compound used in holistic medicine, was able to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells through direct interaction with the virion. Taken together, these studies highlight potential avenues of antiviral development to block emerging viruses. Such proactive approaches, conducted well before the next pandemic, will be essential to have drugs ready for when the next emerging virus hits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2437
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Antiviral
  • Atovaquone
  • Berberine chloride
  • Coronavirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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