Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication by Petasites hybridus CO2-extract (Ze 339)

Constanze A. Jakwerth, Vincent Grass, Anna Erb, Andreas Pichlmair, Georg Boonen, Veronika Butterweck, Carsten B. Schmidt-Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The intensified search for low-threshold herbal anti-viral drugs would be of great advantage in prevention of early stages of infection. Since the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has prevailed in western countries, the course has only been mild, but there are still no widely available drugs that can alleviate or shorten disease progression and counteract the development of Long-COVID. This study aimed to investigate the antiviral effects of a CO2-extract from Petasites hybridus (Ze 339). Methods: We analyzed the infection and replication rate of SARS-CoV-2 in primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBEs) using a GFP-expressing version of the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus and live cell imaging. Upon infection with a clinical isolate of the Omicron variant, viral RNA content was quantified, and plaque assays were performed. In addition, the human transcriptome was analyzed after 4- and 24-hours post infection using whole genome microarrays. Results: Ze 339 had a protective effect on primary airway epithelial cells during SARS-CoV-2 infection and impeded SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication in NHBE. Notably, Ze 339 inhibited the expression of infection-induced IFNA10 by 8.6-fold (p < 0.05) and additionally reduced a wide range of other interferons (IFNA6, IFNA7, IFNA8, IFNA21, IFNE, IFNW1). Conclusion: Thereby, Ze 339 attenuated epithelial infection by SARS-CoV-2 and modeled the IFN response. In conclusion, this study highlights Ze 339 as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 that limits infection-associated cell intrinsic immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115959
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiviral therapeutic
  • COVID-19
  • Interferons (IFN)
  • Omicron variant
  • Petasites hybridus
  • Primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBEs)
  • SARS-CoV-2


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication by Petasites hybridus CO2-extract (Ze 339)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this