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Neuromolecular Med ; 24(4): 363-373, 2022 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1942983


The SARS-CoV-2 virus gains entry to cells by binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Since circumventricular organs and parts of the hypothalamus lack a blood-brain barrier, and immunohistochemical studies demonstrate that ACE2 is highly expressed in circumventricular organs which are intimately connected to the hypothalamus, and the hypothalamus itself, these might be easy entry points for SARS-CoV-2 into the brain via the circulation. High ACE2 protein expression is found in the subfornical organ, area postrema, and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH). The subfornical organ and PVH are parts of a circuit to regulate osmolarity in the blood, through the secretion of anti-diuretic hormone into the posterior pituitary. The PVH is also the stress response centre in the brain. It controls not only pre-ganglionic sympathetic neurons, but is also a source of corticotropin-releasing hormone, that induces the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone from the anterior pituitary. It is proposed that the function of ACE2 in the circumventricular organs and the PVH could be diminished by binding with SARS-CoV-2, thus leading to a reduction in the ACE2/Ang (1-7)/Mas receptor (MasR) signalling axis, that modulates ACE/Ang II/AT1R signalling. This could result in increased presympathetic activity/neuroendocrine secretion from the PVH, and effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Besides the bloodstream, the hypothalamus might also be affected by SARS-CoV-2 via transneuronal spread along the olfactory/limbic pathways. Exploring potential therapeutic pathways to prevent or attenuate neurological symptoms of COVID-19, including drugs which modulate ACE signalling, remains an important area of unmet medical need.

COVID-19 , Circumventricular Organs , Humans , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , SARS-CoV-2 , Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System , Pituitary-Adrenal System , Hypothalamus
Microb Biotechnol ; 15(7): 1984-1994, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1794785


Infection by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can trigger excessive interleukin (IL)-6 signalling, leading to a myriad of biological effects including a cytokine storm that contributes to multiple organ failure in severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Using a mouse model, we demonstrated that nasal inoculation of nucleocapsid phosphoprotein (NPP) of SARS-CoV-2 increased IL-6 content in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Nasal administration of liquid coco-caprylate/caprate (LCC) onto Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis)-colonized mice significantly attenuated NPP-induced IL-6. Furthermore, S. epidermidis-mediated LCC fermentation to generate electricity and butyric acid that promoted bacterial colonization and activated free fatty acid receptor 2 (Ffar2) respectively. Inhibition of Ffar2 impeded the effect of S. epidermidis plus LCC on the reduction of NPP-induced IL-6. Collectively, these results suggest that nasal S. epidermidis is part of the first line of defence in ameliorating a cytokine storm induced by airway infection of SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 , Cytokine Release Syndrome , Staphylococcus epidermidis , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins , Cytokine Release Syndrome/prevention & control , Interleukin-6 , Lung , Mice , Nasal Cavity/microbiology , Phosphoproteins , SARS-CoV-2
Neuromolecular Med ; 23(1): 184-198, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-871558


Ergothioneine (ET) is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is synthesized by non-yeast fungi and certain bacteria. ET is not synthesized by animals, including humans, but is avidly taken up from the diet, especially from mushrooms. In the current study, we elucidated the effect of ET on the hCMEC/D3 human brain endothelial cell line. Endothelial cells are exposed to high levels of the cholesterol oxidation product, 7-ketocholesterol (7KC), in patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and this process is thought to mediate pathological inflammation. 7KC induces a dose-dependent loss of cell viability and an increase in apoptosis and necrosis in the endothelial cells. A relocalization of the tight junction proteins, zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) and claudin-5, towards the nucleus of the cells was also observed. These effects were significantly attenuated by ET. In addition, 7KC induces marked increases in the mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1ß IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), as well as COX2 enzymatic activity, and these were significantly reduced by ET. Moreover, the cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of ET were significantly reduced by co-incubation with an inhibitor of the ET transporter, OCTN1 (VHCL). This shows that ET needs to enter the endothelial cells to have a protective effect and is unlikely to act via extracellular neutralizing of 7KC. The protective effect on inflammation in brain endothelial cells suggests that ET might be useful as a nutraceutical for the prevention or management of neurovascular diseases, such as stroke and vascular dementia. Moreover, the ability of ET to cross the blood-brain barrier could point to its usefulness in combatting 7KC that is produced in the CNS during neuroinflammation, e.g. after excitotoxicity, in chronic neurodegenerative diseases, and possibly COVID-19-related neurologic complications.

Antioxidants/pharmacology , COVID-19/complications , Endothelial Cells/drug effects , Ergothioneine/pharmacology , Ketocholesterols/toxicity , Nervous System Diseases/prevention & control , Neuroprotective Agents/pharmacology , Antioxidants/pharmacokinetics , Apoptosis/drug effects , Biological Transport , Blood-Brain Barrier , Brain/blood supply , Brain/cytology , Cell Line , Cholesterol/metabolism , Claudin-5 , Cyclooxygenase 2/biosynthesis , Cyclooxygenase 2/genetics , Cytokines/biosynthesis , Cytokines/genetics , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Ergothioneine/pharmacokinetics , Humans , Microvessels/cytology , Nervous System Diseases/etiology , Neuroprotective Agents/pharmacokinetics , Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II/metabolism , Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III/metabolism , Organic Cation Transport Proteins , RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis , RNA, Messenger/genetics , Symporters , Zonula Occludens-1 Protein