Horm Metab Res 2024; 56(04): 308-317
DOI: 10.1055/a-2173-0277
Original Article: Endocrine Research

Marine Sponge-Derived Secondary Metabolites Modulate SARS-CoV-2 Entry Mechanisms

1   Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Stefanie Richter
2   Institute of Medical Microbiology and Virology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Dirk Lindemann
2   Institute of Medical Microbiology and Virology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Hermann Ehrlich
3   Center for Advanced Technologies, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland
Stefan R. Bornstein
1   Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
4   School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
5   Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Zurich (USZ) and University of Zurich (UZH), Zürich, Switzerland
Nicole Bechmann
6   Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Funding Information The State Parliament of the Free State of Saxony — 100537675, TP2 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft — 314061271; 288034826


The emergence of SARS-CoV 2 caused the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in numerous global infections and deaths. In particular, people with metabolic diseases display an increased risk of severe COVID 19 and a fatal outcome. Treatment options for severe cases are limited, and the appearance of new virus variants complicates the development of novel therapies. To better manage viral infections like COVID 19, new therapeutic approaches are needed. Marine sponges offer a natural and renewable source of unique bioactive agents. These sponges produce secondary metabolites with various effects, including anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumorigenic properties. In the current study, we investigated the effect of five different marine sponge-derived secondary metabolites (four bromotyrosines and one sesquiterpenoid hydroquinone). Two of these, Avarol and Acetyl-dibromoverongiaquinol reduced the expression of ACE2, the main receptor for SARS-CoV 2, and the alternative receptor NRP1. Moreover, these substances derived from sponges demonstrated the ability to diminish the virus titer in SARS-CoV 2-infected cells, especially concerning the Omicron lineage. However, the reduction was not substantial enough to expect a significant impact on infected humans. Consequently, the investigated sponge-derived secondary metabolites are not likely to be effective to treat COVID 19 as a stand-alone therapy.

Supplementary Material

Publication History

Received: 28 July 2023

Accepted after revision: 01 September 2023

Article published online:
04 October 2023

© 2023. Thieme. All rights reserved.

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Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany

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