Background: A great effort has been made to develop efficacious antiviral drugs,
but many viral infections are still lack of efficient antiviral therapies so far. The related exploration
of natural products to fight viruses has been raised in recent years. Natural compounds
with structural diversity and complexity offer a great chance to find new antiviral
agents. Particularly, phenolic acids have attracted considerable attention owing to their potent
antiviral abilities and unique mechanisms. The aim of this review is to report new discoveries
and updates pertaining to antiviral phenolic acids.
Methods: The relevant references on natural phenolic acids were searched. The antiviral
phenolic acids were classified according to their structural properties and antiviral types.
Meanwhile, the antiviral characteristics and structure-activity relationships of phenolic acids
and their derivatives were summarized.
Results: The review finds that natural phenolic acids and their derivatives possessed potent
inhibitory effects on multiple virus in humans such as human immunodeficiency virus,
hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, herpes simplex virus, influenza virus and respiratory
syncytial virus. In particular, caffeic acid/gallic acid and their derivatives exhibited outstanding
antiviral properties by a variety of modes of action.
Conclusion: Naturally derived phenolic acids especially caffeic acid/gallic acid and their
derivatives may be regarded as novel promising antiviral leads or candidates. Additionly,
scarcely any of these compounds has been used as antiviral treatment in clinical practice.
Therefore, these phenolic acids with diverse skeletons and mechanisms provide us an excellent
resource for finding novel antiviral drugs.