Curcumin inhibits Zika and chikungunya virus infection by inhibiting cell binding
Several compounds extracted from spices and herbs exhibit antiviral effects in vitro, suggesting potential pharmacological uses. Curcumin, a component of turmeric, has been used as a food additive and herbal supplement due to its potential medicinal properties. Previously, curcumin exhibited antiviral properties against several viruses, including dengue virus and hepatitis C virus, among others. Here, we describe the antiviral effect of curcumin on Zika and chikungunya viruses, two mosquito-borne outbreak viruses. Both viruses responded to treatment of cells with up to 5 μM curumin without impacting cellular viability. We observed that direct treatment of virus with curcumin reduced infectivity of virus in a dose- and time-dependent manner for these enveloped viruses, as well as vesicular stomatitis virus. In contrast, we found no change in infectivity for Coxsackievirus B3, a non-enveloped virus. Derivatives of curcumin also exhibited antiviral activity against enveloped viruses. Further examination revealed that curcumin interfered with the binding of the enveloped viruses to cells in a dose-dependent manner, though the integrity of the viral RNA was maintained. Together, these results expand the family of viruses sensitive to curcumin and provide a mechanism of action for curcumin's effect on these enveloped viruses.