Revisiting activity of some glucocorticoids as a potential inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 main protease: theoretical study

Ayman Abo Elmaaty, Radwan Alnajjar, Mohammed I.A. Hamed, Muhammad Khattab, Mohamed M. Khalifa, Ahmed A. Al-Karmalawy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The global breakout of COVID-19 and raised death toll has prompted scientists to develop novel drugs capable of inhibiting SARS-CoV-2. Conducting studies on repurposing some FDA-approved glucocorticoids can be a promising prospective for finding a treatment for COVID-19. In addition, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as glucocorticoids, is a pivotal step in the treatment of critical cases of COVID-19, as they can provoke an inflammatory cytokine storm, damaging lungs. In this study, 22 FDA-approved glucocorticoids were identified throughin silico(molecular docking) studies as the potential inhibitors of COVID-19's main protease. From tested compounds, ciclesonide11, dexamethasone2, betamethasone1, hydrocortisone4, fludrocortisone3, and triamcinolone8are suggested as the most potent glucocorticoids active against COVID-19's main protease. Moreover, molecular dynamics simulations followed by the calculations of the binding free energy using MM-GBSA were carried out for the aforementioned promising candidate-screened glucocorticoids. In addition, quantum chemical calculations revealed two electron-rich sites on ciclesonide where binding interactions with the main protease and cleavage of the prodrug to the active metabolite take place. Our results have ramifications for conducting preclinical and clinical studies on promising glucocorticoids to hasten the development of effective therapeutics against COVID-19. Another advantage is that some glucocorticoids can be prioritized over others for the treatment of inflammation accompanying COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10027-10042
Number of pages16
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


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