Covid-19: the renin-angiotensin system imbalance hypothesis.
ABSTRACT: The emergency of SARS-CoV-2 in China started a novel challenge to the scientific community. As the virus turns pandemic, scientists try to map the cellular mechanisms and pathways of SARS-CoV-2 related to the pathogenesis of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). After transmembrane angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been found to be SARS-CoV-2 receptor, we hypothesized an immune-hematological mechanism for Covid-19 based on renin-angiotensin system (RAS) imbalance to explain clinical, laboratory and imaging findings on disease course. We believe that exaggerated activation of ACE/Angiotensin II (Ang II)/Angiotensin Type 1 (AT1) receptor RAS axis in line with reduction of ACE2/Angiotensin-(1-7)/Mas receptor may exert a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of Covid-19. In this perspective, we discuss potential mechanisms and evidence on this hypothesis.
Project description:The emergence of SARS-CoV-2/human/Wuhan/X1/2019, a virus belonging to the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, and the recognition of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a pandemic have highly increased the scientific research regarding the pathogenesis of COVID-19. The Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) seems to be involved in COVID-19 natural course, since studies suggest the membrane-bound Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) works as SARS-CoV-2 cellular receptor. Besides the efforts of the scientific community to understand the virus' molecular interactions with human cells, few studies summarize what has been so far discovered about SARS-CoV-2 signaling mechanisms and its interactions with RAS molecules. This review aims to discuss possible SARS-CoV-2 intracellular signaling pathways, cell entry mechanism and the possible consequences of the interaction with RAS components, including Angiotensin II (Ang II), Angiotensin-(1-7) [Ang-(1-7)], Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), ACE2, Angiotensin II receptor type-1 (AT1), and Mas Receptor. We also discuss ongoing clinical trials and treatment based on RAS cascade intervention. Data were obtained independently by the two authors who carried out a search in the PubMed, Embase, LILACS, Cochrane, Scopus, SciELO and the National Institute of Health databases using Medical Subject Heading terms as "SARS-CoV-2," "COVID-19," "Renin Angiotensin System," "ACE2," "Angiotensin II," "Angiotensin-(1-7)," and "AT1 receptor." Similarly to other members of Coronaviridae family, the molecular interactions between the pathogen and the membrane-bound ACE2 are based on the cleavage of the spike glycoprotein (S) in two subunits. Following the binding of the S1 receptor-binding domain (RBD) to ACE2, transmembrane protease/serine subfamily 2 (TMPRSS2) cleaves the S2 domain to facilitate membrane fusion. It is very likely that SARS-CoV-2 cell entry results in downregulation of membrane-bound ACE2, an enzyme that converts Ang II into Ang-(1-7). This mechanism can result in lung injury and vasoconstriction. In addition, Ang II activates pro-inflammatory cascades when binding to the AT1 Receptor. On the other hand, Ang-(1-7) promotes anti-inflammatory effects through its interactions with the Mas Receptor. These molecules might be possible therapeutic targets for treating COVID-19. Thus, the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 intracellular pathways and interactions with the RAS may clarify COVID-19 physiopathology and open perspectives for new treatments and strategies.
Project description:Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been recognized as a potential entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Binding of SARS-CoV-2 to ACE2 allows engagement with pulmonary epithelial cells and pulmonary infection with the virus. ACE2 is an essential component of renin-angiotensin system (RAS), and involved in promoting protective effects to counter-regulate angiotensin (Ang) II-induced pathogenesis. The use of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and ACE inhibitors (ACEIs) was implicitly negated during the early phase of COVID-19 pandemic, considering the role of these antihypertensive agents in enhancing ACE2 expression thereby promoting the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. However, no clinical data has supported this assumption, but indeed evidence demonstrates that ACEIs and ARBs, besides their cardioprotective effects in COVID-19 patients with cardiovascular diseases, might also be beneficial in acute lung injuries by preserving the ACE2 function and switching the balance from deleterious ACE/Ang II/AT1 receptor axis towards a protective ACE2/Ang (1-7)/Mas receptor axis.
Project description:The COVID-19 pandemic is an emerging threat to global public health. While our current understanding of COVID-19 pathogenesis is limited, a better understanding will help us develop efficacious treatment and prevention strategies for COVID-19. One potential therapeutic target is angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 primarily catalyzes the conversion of angiotensin I (Ang I) to a nonapeptide angiotensin or the conversion of angiotensin II (Ang II) to angiotensin 1-7 (Ang 1-7) and has direct effects on cardiac function and multiple organs via counter-regulation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Significant to COVID-19, ACE2 is postulated to serve as a major entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in human cells, as it does for SARS-CoV. Many infected individuals develop COVID-19 with fever, cough, and shortness of breath that can progress to pneumonia. Disease progression promotes the activation of immune cells, platelets, and coagulation pathways that can lead to multiple organ failure and death. ACE2 is expressed by epithelial cells of the lungs at high level, a major target of the disease, as seen in post-mortem lung tissue of patients who died with COVID-19, which reveals diffuse alveolar damage with cellular fibromyxoid exudates bilaterally. Comparatively, ACE2 is expressed at low level by vascular endothelial cells of the heart and kidney but may also be targeted by the virus in severe COVID-19 cases. Interestingly, SARS-CoV-2 infection downregulates ACE2 expression, which may also play a critical pathogenic role in COVID-19. Importantly, targeting ACE2/Ang 1-7 axis and blocking ACE2 interaction with the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 to curtail SARS-CoV-2 infection are becoming very attractive therapeutics potential for treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Here, we will discuss the following subtopics: 1) ACE2 as a receptor of SARS-CoV-2; 2) clinical and pathological features of COVID-19; 3) role of ACE2 in the infection and pathogenesis of SARS; 4) potential pathogenic role of ACE2 in COVID-19; 5) animal models for pathological studies and therapeutics; and 6) therapeutics development for COVID-19.
Project description:Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE2) has a multiplicity of physiological roles that revolve around its trivalent function: a negative regulator of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), facilitator of amino acid transport, and the SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 receptor. ACE2 is widely expressed, including, in the lungs, cardiovascular system, gut, kidneys, central nervous system, and adipose tissue. ACE2 has recently been identified as the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, the infective agent responsible for COVID-19, providing a critical link between immunity, inflammation, ACE2, and cardiovascular disease. Although sharing a close evolutionary relationship with SARS-CoV, the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 differs in several key amino acid residues, allowing for stronger binding affinity with the human ACE2 receptor, which may account for the greater pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2. The loss of ACE2 function following binding by SARS-CoV-2 is driven by endocytosis and activation of proteolytic cleavage and processing. The ACE2 system is a critical protective pathway against heart failure with reduced and preserved ejection fraction including, myocardial infarction and hypertension, and against lung disease and diabetes. The control of gut dysbiosis and vascular permeability by ACE2 has emerged as an essential mechanism of pulmonary hypertension and diabetic cardiovascular complications. Recombinant ACE2, gene-delivery of Ace2, Ang 1-7 analogs, and Mas receptor agonists enhance ACE2 action and serve as potential therapies for disease conditions associated with an activated RAS. Recombinant human ACE2 has completed clinical trials and efficiently lowered or increased plasma angiotensin II and angiotensin 1-7 levels, respectively. Our review summarizes the progress over the past 20 years, highlighting the critical role of ACE2 as the novel SARS-CoV-2 receptor and as the negative regulator of the RAS, together with implications for the COVID-19 pandemic and associated cardiovascular diseases.
Project description:The effects of obesity and smoking in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remain controversial. Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a component of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), is the human cell receptor of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19. ACE2 expression increases on lung alveolar epithelial cells and adipose tissue due to obesity, smoking and air pollution. A significant relationship exists between air pollution and SARS-CoV-2 infection, as more severe COVID-19 symptoms occur in smokers; comorbid conditions due to obesity or excess ectopic fat accumulation as underlying risk factors for severe COVID-19 strongly encourage the virus/ACE2 receptor-ligand interaction concept. Indeed, obesity, air pollution and smoking associated risk factors share underlying pathophysiologies that are related to the Renin-Angiotensin-System in SARS-CoV-2 infection. The aim of this review is to emphasize the mechanism of receptor-ligand interaction and its impact on the enhanced risk of death due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:SARS-CoV-2, the agent of COVID-19, shares a lineage with SARS-CoV-1, and a common fatal pulmonary profile but with striking differences in presentation, clinical course, and response to treatment. In contrast to SARS-CoV-1 (SARS), COVID-19 has presented as an often bi-phasic, multi-organ pathology, with a proclivity for severe disease in the elderly and those with hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Whilst death is usually related to respiratory collapse, autopsy reveals multi-organ pathology. Chronic pulmonary disease is underrepresented in the group with severe COVID-19. A commonality of aberrant renin angiotensin system (RAS) is suggested in the at-risk group. The identification of angiotensin-converting-enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the receptor allowing viral entry to cells precipitated our interest in the role of ACE2 in COVID-19 pathogenesis. We propose that COVID-19 is a viral multisystem disease, with dominant vascular pathology, mediated by global reduction in ACE2 function, pronounced in disease conditions with RAS bias toward angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) over ACE2. It is further complicated by organ specific pathology related to loss of ACE2 expressing cells particularly affecting the endothelium, alveolus, glomerulus and cardiac microvasculature. The possible upregulation in ACE2 receptor expression may predispose individuals with aberrant RAS status to higher viral load on infection and relatively more cell loss. Relative ACE2 deficiency leads to enhanced and protracted tissue, and vessel exposure to angiotensin II, characterised by vasoconstriction, enhanced thrombosis, cell proliferation and recruitment, increased tissue permeability, and cytokine production (including IL-6) resulting in inflammation. Additionally, there is a profound loss of the "protective" angiotensin (1-7), a vasodilator with anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, antiproliferative, antifibrotic, anti-arrhythmic, and antioxidant activity. Our model predicts global vascular insult related to direct endothelial cell damage, vasoconstriction and thrombosis with a disease specific cytokine profile related to angiotensin II rather than "cytokine storm". Our proposed mechanism of lung injury provides an explanation for early hypoxia without reduction in lung compliance and suggests a need for revision of treatment protocols to address vasoconstriction, thromboprophylaxis, and to minimize additional small airways and alveolar trauma via ventilation choice. Our model predicts long term sequelae of scarring/fibrosis in vessels, lungs, renal and cardiac tissue with protracted illness in at-risk individuals. It is hoped that our model stimulates review of current diagnostic and therapeutic intervention protocols, particularly with respect to early anticoagulation, vasodilatation and revision of ventilatory support choices.
Project description:Individuals with diabetes suffering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exhibit increased morbidity and mortality compared with individuals without diabetes. In this Perspective, we critically evaluate and argue that this is due to a dysregulated renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Previously, we have shown that loss of angiotensin-I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) promotes the ACE/angiotensin-II (Ang-II)/angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1R) axis, a deleterious arm of RAS, unleashing its detrimental effects in diabetes. As suggested by the recent reports regarding the pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), upon entry into the host, this virus binds to the extracellular domain of ACE2 in nasal, lung, and gut epithelial cells through its spike glycoprotein subunit S1. We put forth the hypothesis that during this process, reduced ACE2 could result in clinical deterioration in COVID-19 patients with diabetes via aggravating Ang-II-dependent pathways and partly driving not only lung but also bone marrow and gastrointestinal pathology. In addition to systemic RAS, the pathophysiological response of the local RAS within the intestinal epithelium involves mechanisms distinct from that of RAS in the lung; however, both lung and gut are impacted by diabetes-induced bone marrow dysfunction. Careful targeting of the systemic and tissue RAS may optimize clinical outcomes in subjects with diabetes infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Project description:Although clinical manifestations of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2), are mainly respiratory symptoms, patients can also develop severe cardiovascular damage. Therefore, understanding the damage caused by SARS-COV-2 to the cardiovascular system and the underlying mechanisms is fundamental. The cardiovascular damage may be related to the imbalance of the renin-angiotensin-system (RAS) as this virus binds the Angiotensin-Converting-Enzyme 2 (ACE2), expressed on the lung alveolar epithelial cells, to enter into cells. Virus internalization may cause a downregulation of ACE2 on host cell surface that could lead to a local increased level of angiotensin II (AII) and a reduced level of angiotensin 1-7 (A1-7). An imbalance between these angiotensins may be responsible for the lung and heart damage. Pharmacological strategies that interfere with the viral attachment to ACE2 (umifenovir and hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine) or that modulate the RAS (analogous of A1-7 and ACE2, losartan) are in clinical development for COVID-19. The use of RAS inhibitors has also become a matter of public concern as these drugs may increase the mRNA expression and levels of ACE2 and impact the virulence and transmission of SARS-COV-2. Data on the effect of RAS inhibitors on ACE2 mRNA expression are scarce. Scientific societies expressed their opinion on continuing the therapy with RAS inhibitors in patients with COVID-19 and underlying cardiovascular diseases. In conclusion, RAS may play a role in SARS-COV-2-induced cardiac and pulmonary damage. Further studies are needed to better understand the role of RAS in COVID-19 and to guide decision on the use of RAS inhibitors.
Project description:SARS-CoV-2, the pathogenic agent of COVID-19, employs angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) as its cell entry receptor. Clinical data reveal that in severe COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 infects the lung, leading to a frequently lethal triad of respiratory insufficiency, acute cardiovascular failure, and coagulopathy. Physiologically, ACE2 plays a role in the regulation of three systems that could potentially be involved in the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19: the kinin-kallikrein system, resulting in acute lung inflammatory edema; the renin-angiotensin system, promoting cardiovascular instability; and the coagulation system, leading to thromboembolism. Here we assembled a healthy human lung cell atlas meta-analysis with?~?130,000 public single-cell transcriptomes and show that key elements of the bradykinin, angiotensin and coagulation systems are co-expressed with ACE2 in alveolar cells and associated with their differentiation dynamics, which could explain how changes in ACE2 promoted by SARS-CoV-2 cell entry result in the development of the three most severe clinical components of COVID-19.
Project description:Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) are frequently prescribed for a range of diseases including hypertension, proteinuric chronic kidney disease, and heart failure. There is evidence indicating that these drugs upregulate ACE2, a key component of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and is found on the cells of a number of tissues, including the epithelial cells in the lungs. While ACE2 has a beneficial role in many diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, it also serves as a receptor for both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 via binding with the spike protein of the virus, thereby allowing it entry into host cells. Thus, it has been suggested that these therapies can theoretically increase the risk of SARS- CoV-2 infection and cause more severe COVID-19. Given the success of ACEi and ARBs in cardiovascular diseases, we seek to gain insights into the implications of these medications in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. To that end, we have developed a mathematical model that represents the RAS, binding of ACE2 with SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent cell entry, and the host's acute inflammatory response. The model can simulate different levels of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, and represent the effect of commonly prescribed anti-hypertensive medications, ACEi and ARB, and predict tissue damage. Model simulations indicate that whether the extent of tissue damage may be exacerbated by ACEi or ARB treatment depends on a number of factors, including the level of existing inflammation, dosage, and the effect of the drugs on ACE2 protein abundance. The findings of this study can serve as the first step in the development of appropriate and more comprehensive guidelines for the prescription of ACEi and ARB in the current and future coronavirus pandemics.