Low Z.X., OuYong B.M., Hassandarvish P., Poh C.L., Ramanathan B.
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Dengue is an arthropod-borne viral disease that has become endemic and a global threat in many countries with no effective antiviral drug available currently. This study showed that flavonoids: silymarin and baicalein could inhibit the dengue virus in vitro and were well tolerated in Vero cells with a half-maximum cytotoxic concentration ( CC50) of 749.70 μg/mL and 271.03 μg/mL, respectively. Silymarin and baicalein exerted virucidal effects against DENV-3, with a selective index (SI) of 10.87 and 21.34, respectively. Baicalein showed a better inhibition of intracellular DENV-3 progeny with a SI of 7.82 compared to silymarin. Baicalein effectively blocked DENV-3 attachment (95.59%) to the Vero cells, while silymarin prevented the viral entry (72.46%) into the cells, thus reducing viral infectivity. Both flavonoids showed promising antiviral activity against all four dengue serotypes. The in silico molecular docking showed that silymarin could bind to the viral envelope (E) protein with a binding affinity of − 8.5 kcal/mol and form hydrogen bonds with the amino acids GLN120, TRP229, ASN89, and THR223 of the E protein. Overall, this study showed that silymarin and baicalein exhibited potential anti-DENV activity and could serve as promising antiviral agents for further development against dengue infection.