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EBioMedicine ; 75: 103803, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587923


BACKGROUND: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been a great threat to global public health since 2020. Although the advance on vaccine development has been largely achieved, a strategy to alleviate immune overactivation in severe COVID-19 patients is still needed. The NLRP3 inflammasome is activated upon SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated with COVID-19 severity. However, the processes by which the NLRP3 inflammasome is involved in COVID-19 disease remain unclear. METHODS: We infected THP-1 derived macrophages, NLRP3 knockout mice, and human ACE2 transgenic mice with live SARS-CoV-2 in Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory. We performed quantitative real-time PCR for targeted viral or host genes from SARS-CoV-2 infected mouse tissues, conducted histological or immunofluorescence analysis in SARS-CoV-2 infected mouse tissues. We also injected intranasally AAV-hACE2 or intraperitoneally NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor MCC950 before SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice as indicated. FINDINGS: We have provided multiple lines of evidence that the NLRP3 inflammasome plays an important role in the host immune response to SARS-CoV-2 invasion of the lungs. Inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome attenuated the release of COVID-19 related pro-inflammatory cytokines in cell cultures and mice. The severe pathology induced by SARS-CoV-2 in lung tissues was reduced in Nlrp3-/- mice compared to wild-type C57BL/6 mice. Finally, specific inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome by MCC950 alleviated excessive lung inflammation and thus COVID-19 like pathology in human ACE2 transgenic mice. INTERPRETATION: Inflammatory activation induced by SARS-CoV-2 is an important stimulator of COVID-19 related immunopathology. Targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome is a promising immune intervention against severe COVID-19 disease. FUNDING: This work was supported by grants from the Bureau of Frontier Sciences and Education, CAS (grant no. QYZDJ-SSW-SMC005 to Y.G.Y.), the key project of the CAS "Light of West China" Program (to D.Y.) and Yunnan Province (202001AS070023 to D.Y.).

COVID-19 , Lung , Macrophages , NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Lung/immunology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Macrophages/immunology , Macrophages/pathology , Macrophages/virology , Male , Mice , Mice, Knockout , NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , THP-1 Cells
Science ; 371(6536): 1374-1378, 2021 03 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1255508


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continually poses serious threats to global public health. The main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2 plays a central role in viral replication. We designed and synthesized 32 new bicycloproline-containing Mpro inhibitors derived from either boceprevir or telaprevir, both of which are approved antivirals. All compounds inhibited SARS-CoV-2 Mpro activity in vitro, with 50% inhibitory concentration values ranging from 7.6 to 748.5 nM. The cocrystal structure of Mpro in complex with MI-23, one of the most potent compounds, revealed its interaction mode. Two compounds (MI-09 and MI-30) showed excellent antiviral activity in cell-based assays. In a transgenic mouse model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, oral or intraperitoneal treatment with MI-09 or MI-30 significantly reduced lung viral loads and lung lesions. Both also displayed good pharmacokinetic properties and safety in rats.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Cell Survival/drug effects , Chemokine CXCL10/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Drug Design , Humans , Interferon-beta/metabolism , Lung/immunology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Oligopeptides , Proline/analogs & derivatives , Protease Inhibitors/chemistry , Protease Inhibitors/therapeutic use , Protease Inhibitors/toxicity , Rats , Rats, Sprague-Dawley , Viral Load/drug effects , Virus Replication