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Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0150421, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1604818


In December 2019, a new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) started spreading worldwide causing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The hyperactivation of the immune system has been proposed to account for disease severity and death in COVID-19 patients. Despite several approaches having been tested, no therapeutic protocol has been approved. Given that Cyclosporine A (CsA) is well-known to exert a strong antiviral activity on several viral strains and an anti-inflammatory role in different organs with relevant benefits in diverse pathological contexts, we tested its effects on SARS-CoV-2 infection of lung cells. We found that treatment with CsA either before or after infection of CaLu3 cells by three SARS-CoV-2 variants: (i) reduces the expression of both viral RNA and proteins in infected cells; (ii) decreases the number of progeny virions released by infected cells; (iii) dampens the virus-triggered synthesis of cytokines (including IL-6, IL-8, IL1α and TNF-α) that are involved in cytokine storm in patients. Altogether, these data provide a rationale for CsA repositioning for the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients. IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2 is the most recently identified member of the betacoronavirus genus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Repurposing of available drugs has been a "quick and dirty" approach to try to reduce mortality and severe symptoms in affected patients initially, and can still represent an undeniable and valuable approach to face COVID-19 as the continuous appearance and rapid diffusion of more "aggressive"/transmissible variants, capable of eluding antibody neutralization, challenges the effectiveness of some anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Here, we tested a known antiviral and anti-inflammatory drug, Cyclosporine A (CsA), and found that it dampens viral infection and cytokine release from lung cells upon exposure to three different SARS-CoV-2 variants. Knock down of the main intracellular target of CsA, Cyclophilin A, does not phenocopy the drug inhibition of viral infection. Altogether, these findings shed new light on the cellular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and provide the rationale for CsA repositioning to treat severe COVID-19 patients.

Anti-Inflammatory Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/virology , Cyclosporine/pharmacology , Cytokines/immunology , Lung/virology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Virus Release/drug effects , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome , Cytokines/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology
Cells ; 10(6)2021 06 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1264419


In late 2019, the betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was identified as the viral agent responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Coronaviruses Spike proteins are responsible for their ability to interact with host membrane receptors and different proteins have been identified as SARS-CoV-2 interactors, among which Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and Basigin2/EMMPRIN/CD147 (CD147). CD147 plays an important role in human immunodeficiency virus type 1, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infections. In particular, SARS-CoV recognizes the CD147 receptor expressed on the surface of host cells by its nucleocapsid protein binding to cyclophilin A (CyPA), a ligand for CD147. However, the involvement of CD147 in SARS-CoV-2 infection is still debated. Interference with both the function (blocking antibody) and the expression (knock down) of CD147 showed that this receptor partakes in SARS-CoV-2 infection and provided additional clues on the underlying mechanism: CD147 binding to CyPA does not play a role; CD147 regulates ACE2 levels and both receptors are affected by virus infection. Altogether, these findings suggest that CD147 is involved in SARS-CoV-2 tropism and represents a possible therapeutic target to challenge COVID-19.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/physiology , Basigin/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Internalization , A549 Cells , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Basigin/antagonists & inhibitors , Basigin/genetics , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Caco-2 Cells , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Hep G2 Cells , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Molecular Targeted Therapy , RNA Interference/physiology , RNA, Small Interfering/pharmacology , RNA, Small Interfering/therapeutic use , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Receptors, Virus/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Tropism/physiology