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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci ; 62(7): 25, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280514


Purpose: The ocular surface is considered an important route for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission. The expression level of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is vital for viral infection. However, the regulation of ACE2 expression on the ocular surface is still unknown. We aimed to determine the change in ACE2 expression in inflamed corneal epithelium and explore potential drugs to reduce the expression of ACE2 on the ocular surface. Methods: The expression of the SARS-CoV-2 receptors ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) was examined by qPCR and Western blotting. The altered expression of ACE2 in inflammatory corneal epithelium was evaluated in TNFα- and IL-1ß-stimulated HCECs and inflamed mouse corneal epithelium, and the effect of resveratrol on ACE2 expression in HCECs was detected by immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis. Results: ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are expressed on the human corneal epithelial cells. ACE2 expression is upregulated in HCECs by stimulation with TNFα and IL-1ß and inflamed mouse corneas, including dry eye and alkali-burned corneas. In addition, resveratrol attenuates the increased expression of ACE2 induced by TNFα in HCECs. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that ACE2 is highly expressed in HCECs and can be upregulated by stimulation with inflammatory cytokines and inflamed mouse corneal epithelium. Resveratrol may be able to reduce the increased expression of ACE2 on the inflammatory ocular surface. Our work suggests that patients with an inflammatory ocular surface may display higher ACE2 expression, which increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Epithelium, Corneal/enzymology , Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic/physiology , Keratitis/enzymology , Resveratrol/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adult , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Blotting, Western , Cells, Cultured , Epithelium, Corneal/drug effects , Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic/drug effects , Humans , Inflammation/drug therapy , Inflammation/enzymology , Interleukin-1beta/pharmacology , Keratitis/drug therapy , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Microscopy, Fluorescence , RNA, Messenger/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/pharmacology , Up-Regulation
Mol Cell Endocrinol ; 529: 111260, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157602


Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a component of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), has been identified as the receptor for the SARS-CoV-2. Several RAS components including ACE2 and its substrate Ang II are present in both eye and skin, two stratified squamous epithelial tissues that isolate organisms from external environment. Our recent findings in cornea and others in both skin and eye suggest contribution of this system, and specifically of ACE2 in variety of physiological and pathological responses of these organ systems. This review will focus on the role RAS system plays in both skin and cornea, and will specifically discuss our recent findings on ACE2 in corneal epithelial inflammation, as well as potential implications of ACE2 in patients with COVID-19.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Epithelium, Corneal/enzymology , Receptors, Coronavirus/metabolism , Skin/enzymology , Autophagy , COVID-19/enzymology , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Inflammation/enzymology , Renin-Angiotensin System/physiology , Wound Healing
Ocul Surf ; 18(4): 537-544, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-597966


PURPOSE: Conjunctival signs and symptoms are observed in a subset of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in tears, raising concerns regarding the eye both as a portal of entry and carrier of the virus. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ocular surface cells possess the key factors required for cellular susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 entry/infection. METHODS: We analyzed human post-mortem eyes as well as surgical specimens for the expression of ACE2 (the receptor for SARS-CoV-2) and TMPRSS2, a cell surface-associated protease that facilitates viral entry following binding of the viral spike protein to ACE2. RESULTS: Across all eye specimens, immunohistochemical analysis revealed expression of ACE2 in the conjunctiva, limbus, and cornea, with especially prominent staining in the superficial conjunctival and corneal epithelial surface. Surgical conjunctival specimens also showed expression of ACE2 in the conjunctival epithelium, especially prominent in the superficial epithelium, as well as weak or focal expression in the substantia propria. All eye and conjunctival specimens also expressed TMPRSS2. Finally, Western blot analysis of protein lysates from human corneal epithelium obtained during refractive surgery confirmed expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results suggest that ocular surface cells including conjunctiva are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and could therefore serve as a portal of entry as well as a reservoir for person-to-person transmission of this virus. This highlights the importance of safety practices including face masks and ocular contact precautions in preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnosis , Conjunctiva/enzymology , Epithelium, Corneal/enzymology , Eye Infections, Viral/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Blotting, Western , COVID-19/metabolism , Disease Susceptibility , Eye Infections, Viral/metabolism , Female , Humans , Immunohistochemistry , Male , Middle Aged