Biomedicines 10 (8) - [2022-07-25; online 2022-07-25]
The main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2 is an appealing target for the development of antiviral compounds, due to its critical role in the viral life cycle and its high conservation among different coronaviruses and the continuously emerging mutants of SARS-CoV-2. Ferulic acid (FA) is a phytochemical with several health benefits that is abundant in plant biomass and has been used as a basis for the enzymatic or chemical synthesis of derivatives with improved properties, including antiviral activity against a range of viruses. This study tested 54 reported FA derivatives for their inhibitory potential against Mpro by in silico simulations. Molecular docking was performed using Autodock Vina, resulting in comparable or better binding affinities for 14 compounds compared to the known inhibitors N3 and GC376. ADMET analysis showed limited bioavailability but significantly improved the solubility for the enzymatically synthesized hits while better bioavailability and druglikeness properties but higher toxicity were observed for the chemically synthesized ones. MD simulations confirmed the stability of the complexes of the most promising compounds with Mpro, highlighting FA rutinoside and compound e27 as the best candidates from each derivative category.