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Research Article

Exploration of Molecular Targets and Mechanisms of Curcumin in the Treatment of COVID-19 with Depression by an Integrative Pharmacology Strategy

[ Vol. 29 , Issue. 31 ]


Dongwei Zhu and Xianmei Zhou*   Pages 2501 - 2519 ( 19 )


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) not only causes a range of respiratory symptoms but also has a great impact on individual mental health. With the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2, the incidence of COVID-19 comorbid with depression has increased significantly. Curcumin, a natural polyphenol compound, has been shown to have antidepressant and anti-coronavirus activities.

Methods: This study aimed to explore the molecular targets and underlying biological mechanisms of curcumin in the treatment of COVID-19 with depression through an integrative pharmacology strategy, including target prediction, network analysis, PPI analysis, GO and KEGG enrichment analyses, and molecular docking.

Results: After a comprehensive search and thorough analysis, 8 core targets (ALB, AKT1, CASP3, STAT3, EGFR, PTGS2, FOS, and SERPINE1) were identified. GO and KEGG enrichment analysis results revealed that the pathways related to viral infection, immune regulation, neuronal reorganization, apoptosis, and secretion of inflammatory cytokines were involved in the pathological process. Furthermore, molecular docking showed that curcumin could spontaneously bind to the SARS-CoV-2-related receptor proteins and the core targets with a strong binding force.

Conclusion: The potential pharmacological mechanisms of curcumin in COVID-19 comorbid depression were evaluated. Curcumin can be used as a therapeutic agent for COVID-19 comorbid depression. One of the potential mechanisms may be to reduce the inflammatory response and suppress the cytokine storm by regulating the JAK-STAT signaling pathway and MAPK signaling pathway. These findings may help to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychological health.


COVID-19, curcumin, depression, network pharmacology, molecular docking, psychological health.


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