ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0010.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Pathology & Pathobiology Keywords: COVID-19; ARDS; Cytokine Storm; Spike S1 protein; SARS-CoV-2, Long COVID; ACE2; A549 cells; Caco-2 cells
Online: 1 June 2022 (09:49:27 CEST)
The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began in Jan. 2020 in Wuhan, China with a new coronavirus designated SARS-CoV-2. The principle cause of death from COVID-19 disease quickly emerged as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). A key ARDS pathogenic mechanism is the “Cytokine Storm”. This is a dramatic increase in the blood of inflammatory cytokines. In the last 2 years of the pandemic new pathology has emerged in COVID-19 survivors in which a variety of long-term symptoms emerge. This condition is called “Long COVID”. The spike protein on the surface of the virus (target for the new mRNA/DNA vaccines) is composed of joined S1-S2 subunits. Upon S1 bind-ing to the human ACE2 receptor on cells, the S1 subunit is cleaved and the S2 subunit me-diates entry of the virus. The S1 protein is then released into the blood, which might be one of the pivotal triggers for initiation and/or perpetuation of the cytokine storm. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the spike S1 protein may activate inflammatory sig-naling and cytokine production independent of the virus. Our data support a potential role for spike S1 activation of inflammatory signaling and cytokine production in human lung and intestinal epithelial cells in culture. These data support a potential role for the SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 protein in COVID-19 pathogenesis.