Propolis remains an interesting source of natural chemical compounds that show, among others, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Due to the growing incidence of respiratory tract infections caused by various pathogenic viruses, complementary methods of prevention and therapy supporting pharmacotherapy are constantly being sought out. The properties of propolis may be important in the prevention and treatment of respiratory tract diseases caused by viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, influenza viruses, the parainfluenza virus and rhinoviruses. One of the main challenges in recent years has been severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing COVID-19. Recently, an increasing number of studies are focusing on the activity of various propolis preparations against SARS-CoV-2 as an adjuvant treatment for this infection.
Propolis has shown a few key mechanisms of anti-SARS-CoV-2 action such as: the inhibition of the interaction of the S1 spike protein and ACE-2 protein; decreasing the replication of viruses by diminishing the synthesis of RNA transcripts in cells; decreasing the particles of coronaviruses. The anti-viral effect is observed not only with extracts but also with the single biologically active compounds found in propolis (e.g., apigenin, caffeic acid, chrysin, kaempferol, quercetin). Moreover, propolis is effective in the treatment of hyperglycemia, which increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The aim of the literature review was to summarize recent studies from the PubMed database evaluating the antiviral activity of propolis extracts in terms of prevention and the therapy of respiratory tract diseases (in vitro, in vivo, clinical trials).
Based upon this review, it was found that in recent years studies have focused mainly on the assessment of the effectiveness of propolis and its chemical components against COVID-19. Propolis exerts wide-spectrum antimicrobial activities; thus, propolis extracts can be an effective option in the prevention and treatment of co-infections associated with diseases of the respiratory tract.
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