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Drug Dev Res ; 83(3): 622-627, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1479397


Several comorbidities including diabetes, immune deficiency, and chronic respiratory disorders increase the risk of severe Covid-19 and fatalities among SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. Severe Covid-19 risk among diabetes patients may reflect reduced immune response to viral infections. SARS-CoV-2 initially infects respiratory tract epithelial cells by binding to the host cell membrane ACE2, followed by proteolytic priming for cell entry by the host cell membrane serine protease TMPRSS2. Additionally, the protease FURIN facilitates cell exit of mature SARS-CoV-2 virions. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT), the major plasma serine protease inhibitor, encoded by SERPINA1, is known to promote immune response to viral infections. AAT inhibits neutrophil elastase, a key inflammatory serine protease implicated in alveolar cell damage during respiratory infections, and AAT deficiency is associated with susceptibility to lung infections. AAT is implicated in Covid-19 as it inhibits TMPRSS2, a protease essential for SARS-CoV-2 cell entry. Here we show that treatment of A549 human lung epithelial cells for 7 days with 25 mM d-galactose, an inducer of diabetic-like and oxidative stress cellular phenotypes, leads to increased mRNA levels of ACE2, TMPRSS2, and FURIN, along with reduced SERPINA1 mRNA. Together, the dysregulated transcription of these genes following d-galactose treatment suggests that chronic diabetic-like conditions may facilitate SARS-CoV-2 infection of lung epithelial cells. Our findings may in part explain the higher severe Covid-19 risk in diabetes, and highlight the need to develop special treatment protocols for diabetic patients.

COVID-19 , Furin , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , COVID-19/drug therapy , Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Furin/genetics , Furin/metabolism , Galactose , Humans , Lung/metabolism , RNA, Messenger/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/genetics , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/metabolism , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/pharmacology
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(15)2021 Jul 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374420


For the treatment of severe COVID-19, supplementation with human plasma-purified α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) to patients is currently considered. AAT inhibits host proteases that facilitate viral entry and possesses broad anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. Researchers have demonstrated that an interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S) and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) enhances pro-inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo. Hence, we wanted to understand the potential anti-inflammatory activities of plasma-derived and recombinant AAT (recAAT) in a model of human total peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) exposed to a combination of CHO expressed trimeric spike protein and LPS, ex vivo. We confirmed that cytokine production was enhanced in PBMCs within six hours when low levels of LPS were combined with purified spike proteins ("spike"). In the presence of 0.5 mg/mL recAAT, however, LPS/spike-induced TNF-α and IL-1ß mRNA expression and protein release were significantly inhibited (by about 46-50%) relative to LPS/spike alone. Although without statistical significance, recAAT also reduced production of IL-6 and IL-8. Notably, under the same experimental conditions, the plasma-derived AAT preparation Respreeza (used in native and oxidized forms) did not show significant effects. Our findings imply that an early pro-inflammatory activation of human PBMCs is better controlled by the recombinant version of AAT than the human plasma-derived AAT used here. Considering the increasing clinical interest in AAT therapy as useful to ameliorate the hyper-inflammation seen during COVID-19 infection, different AAT preparations require careful evaluation.

Anti-Inflammatory Agents/pharmacology , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/pharmacology , Animals , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/chemistry , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/immunology , CHO Cells , COVID-19/therapy , Cells, Cultured , Cricetulus , Cytokines/metabolism , Humans , Inflammation/metabolism , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/drug effects , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/immunology , Lipopolysaccharides/immunology , Lipopolysaccharides/toxicity , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/chemistry , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/immunology
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1726, 2021 03 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1142436


SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory pathogen and primarily infects the airway epithelium. As our knowledge about innate immune factors of the respiratory tract against SARS-CoV-2 is limited, we generated and screened a peptide/protein library derived from bronchoalveolar lavage for inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 spike-driven entry. Analysis of antiviral fractions revealed the presence of α1-antitrypsin (α1AT), a highly abundant circulating serine protease inhibitor. Here, we report that α1AT inhibits SARS-CoV-2 entry at physiological concentrations and suppresses viral replication in cell lines and primary cells including human airway epithelial cultures. We further demonstrate that α1AT binds and inactivates the serine protease TMPRSS2, which enzymatically primes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for membrane fusion. Thus, the acute phase protein α1AT is an inhibitor of TMPRSS2 and SARS-CoV-2 entry, and may play an important role in the innate immune defense against the novel coronavirus. Our findings suggest that repurposing of α1AT-containing drugs has prospects for the therapy of COVID-19.

COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Serine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , alpha 1-Antitrypsin/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/blood , Caco-2 Cells , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Molecular Docking Simulation , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Internalization/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects