Fatal infectious diseases caused by HIV-1, influenza A virus, Ebola virus, and currently pandemic coronavirus highlight the great need for the discovery of antiviral agents in mechanisms different from current viral replication-targeted approaches. Given the critical role of virus-host interactions in the viral life cycle, the development of entry or shedding inhibitors may expand the current repertoire of antiviral agents; the combination of antireplication inhibitors and entry or shedding inhibitors would create a multifaceted drug cocktail with a tandem antiviral mechanism. Therefore, we provide critical information about triterpenoids as potential antiviral agents targeting entry and release, focusing specifically on the emerging aspect of triterpenoid-mediated inhibition of a variety of virus-host membrane fusion mechanisms via a trimer-of-hairpin motif. These properties of triterpenoids supply their host an evolutionary advantage for chemical defense and may protect against an increasingly diverse array of viruses infecting mammals, providing a direction for antiviral drug discovery.
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