Possible mechanistic insights into iron homeostasis role of the action of 4-aminoquinolines (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine) on COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 2021;(23):7565-7584
OBJECTIVE With the recent direction in drug repurposing, many approved drugs have been evaluated to assess their effect on the coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19). Driving this path, chloroquine (CQ) has been used in the treatment of malaria and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in immunomodulatory and anti-thrombotic action, playing a leading role in initial management of the viral infection. MATERIALS AND METHODS Literature search was done using Google Scholar, PubMed and Scopus database using keywords "chloroquine" "SARS-CoV-2" "COVID-19" "mechanism of action" and articles of interest were selected providing evidence of the possible role of CQ in viral infection. RESULTS In a bid to understand how and if CQ and HCQ would exert their anti-viral property, mechanistic exegesis was done to review various proposed mechanisms of action. This revealed the inhibition of viral attachment and entry, inhibition of enveloped glycoprotein, inhibition of the development and proliferation of new viral particles as the way they perform their action. There is an interplay between iron metabolism and homeostasis with COVID-19 infection and viral reproduction. CONCLUSIONS This study aims to show the functional role of CQ and HCQ, as well as to provide possible mechanistic insight on the role of iron on viral infection, iron starvation and its downstream cellular pathways involving hepcidin and proinflammatory cytokines. The overall aim of providing possible mode of action of CQ and HCQ in the management of COVID-19 infection is exhibited via its anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic activities.
Iron metabolism in infections: Focus on COVID-19.
Seminars in hematology. 2021;(3):182-187
Iron is a micronutrient essential for a wide range of metabolic processes in virtually all living organisms. During infections, a battle for iron takes place between the human host and the invading pathogens. The liver peptide hepcidin, which is phylogenetically and structurally linked to defensins (antimicrobial peptides of the innate immunity), plays a pivotal role by subtracting iron to pathogens through its sequestration into host cells, mainly macrophages. While this phenomenon is well studied in certain bacterial infections, much less is known regarding viral infections. Iron metabolism also has implications on the functionality of cells of the immune system. Once primed by the contact with antigen presenting cells, lymphocytes need iron to sustain the metabolic burst required for mounting an effective cellular and humoral response. The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted an amount of clinical and translational research over the possible influences of nutrients on SARS-CoV-2 infection, in terms of either susceptibility or clinical course. Here we review the intersections between iron metabolism and COVID-19, belonging to the wider domain of the so-called "nutritional immunity". A better understanding of such connections has potential broad implications, either from a mechanistic standpoint, or for the development of more effective strategies for managing COVID-19 and possible future pandemics.
GDF15: an emerging modulator of immunity and a strategy in COVID-19 in association with iron metabolism.
Trends in endocrinology and metabolism: TEM. 2021;(11):875-889
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a pandemic of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 encodes the structural proteins spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M), and nucleocapsid (N). The receptor-binding domain on the surface subunit S1 is responsible for attachment of the virus to angiotensin (Ang)-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is highly expressed in host cells. The cytokine storm observed in patients with COVID-19 contributes to the endothelial vascular dysfunction, which can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, multiorgan failure, alteration in iron homeostasis, and death. Growth and differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), which belongs to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily of proteins, has a pivotal role in the development and progression of diseases because of its role as a metabolic regulator. In COVID-19, GDF15 activity increases in response to tissue damage. GDF15 appears to be a strong predictor of poor outcomes in patients critically ill with COVID-19 and acts as an 'inflammation-induced central mediator of tissue tolerance' via its metabolic properties. In this review, we examine the potential properties of GDF15 as an emerging modulator of immunity in COVID-19 in association with iron metabolism. The virus life cycle in host cell provides potential targets for drug therapy.
Combined lymphocyte/monocyte count, D-dimer and iron status predict COVID-19 course and outcome in a long-term care facility.
Journal of translational medicine. 2021;(1):79
BACKGROUND The Sars-CoV-2 can cause severe pneumonia with multiorgan disease; thus, the identification of clinical and laboratory predictors of the progression towards severe and fatal forms of this illness is needed. Here, we retrospectively evaluated and integrated laboratory parameters of 45 elderly subjects from a long-term care facility with Sars-CoV-2 outbreak and spread, to identify potential common patterns of systemic response able to better stratify patients' clinical course and outcome. METHODS Baseline white blood cells, granulocytes', lymphocytes', and platelets' counts, hemoglobin, total iron, ferritin, D-dimer, and interleukin-6 concentration were used to generate a principal component analysis. Statistical analysis was performed by using R statistical package version 4.0. RESULTS We identified 3 laboratory patterns of response, renamed as low-risk, intermediate-risk, and high-risk, strongly associated with patients' survival (p < 0.01). D-dimer, iron status, lymphocyte/monocyte count represented the main markers discriminating high- and low-risk groups. Patients belonging to the high-risk group presented a significantly longer time to ferritin decrease (p: 0.047). Iron-to-ferritin-ratio (IFR) significantly segregated recovered and dead patients in the intermediate-risk group (p: 0.012). CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that a combination of few laboratory parameters, i.e. iron status, D-dimer and lymphocyte/monocyte count at admission and during the hospital stay, can predict clinical progression in COVID-19.
The first report of iron-rich population of adapted medicinal spinach (Blitum virgatum L.) compared with cultivated spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.).
Scientific reports. 2021;(1):22169
Folk medicine such as herbal and natural products have been used for centuries in every culture throughout the world. The Chenopodiaceae family with more than 1500 species is dispersed worldwide. The Iranian wild spinach (Blitum virgatum L.) is an important traditional medicinal plant used for antiviral diseases such as pneumonia and other respiratory track infections. This plant is a mountainous herb and is growing upper than 3000 m. We performed a mass selection plant breeding program on wild populations of this Iranian wild spinach during 2013-2020. Based on experimental and field characteristics this plant was identified as B. virgatum, |abbaricum|, and related characteristics were prepared with reference to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Mass selection program resulted from an adapted population named as medicinal spinach (MSP) population. To compare the mineral content of the mass-selected population with cultivated spinach (Spinacia oleracea L. |Varamin 88|), both plants were planted in pots and fields under similar conditions. In five leaves stage, plant samples were taken from both leaf and crown sections and used for experimental analysis. Atomic absorption spectroscopy was used to determine the mineral content including iron (Fe), zinc (Z), manganese (Mn), and copper (Cu). Our results showed the selected medicinal spinach population (MSP) with about 509 ppm iron was an important iron-rich population with about 3.5-4 times more than the amount of iron in cultivated spinach in the same conditions. Because iron is an important essential element for blood production, respiration process, energy metabolisms, synthesis of collagen, and some neurotransmitters are needed for proper immune function, so the supply of absorbable adequate iron is very important. The reasons such as the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affects the amount of exchangeable oxygen in the lungs and historical local evidences of the use of this plant (MSP) for pneumonia, could open new horizons for focusing on studies related to the use of ancestral human experiences in addition to scientifically modern research.
Is Ferroptosis a Future Direction in Exploring Cryptococcal Meningitis?
Frontiers in immunology. 2021;:598601
Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is the leading cause of mortality among patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Although treatment strategies for CM are continually being developed, the mortality rate is still high. Therefore, we need to explore more therapeutic strategies that are aimed at hindering its pathogenic mechanism. In the field of CM, several studies have observed rapid iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation within the brain, all of which are hallmarks of ferroptosis, which is a type of programmed cell death that is characterized by iron dependence and lipid peroxidation. In recent years, many studies have confirmed the involvement of ferroptosis in many diseases, including infectious diseases such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Furthermore, ferroptosis is considered as immunogenic and pro-inflammatory as the ferroptotic cells release damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) and alarmin, both of which regulate immunity and pro-inflammatory activity. Hence, we hypothesize that there might be a relationship between this unique cell death modality and CM. Herein, we review the evidence of ferroptosis in CM and consider the hypothesis that ferroptotic cell death may be involved in the cell death of CM.
COVID-19 as part of the hyperferritinemic syndromes: the role of iron depletion therapy.
Immunologic research. 2020;(4):213-224
SARS-CoV-2 infection is characterized by a protean clinical picture that can range from asymptomatic patients to life-threatening conditions. Severe COVID-19 patients often display a severe pulmonary involvement and develop neutrophilia, lymphopenia, and strikingly elevated levels of IL-6. There is an over-exuberant cytokine release with hyperferritinemia leading to the idea that COVID-19 is part of the hyperferritinemic syndrome spectrum. Indeed, very high levels of ferritin can occur in other diseases including hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, macrophage activation syndrome, adult-onset Still's disease, catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome and septic shock. Numerous studies have demonstrated the immunomodulatory effects of ferritin and its association with mortality and sustained inflammatory process. High levels of free iron are harmful in tissues, especially through the redox damage that can lead to fibrosis. Iron chelation represents a pillar in the treatment of iron overload. In addition, it was proven to have an anti-viral and anti-fibrotic activity. Herein, we analyse the pathogenic role of ferritin and iron during SARS-CoV-2 infection and propose iron depletion therapy as a novel therapeutic approach in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iron metabolism and lymphocyte characterisation during Covid-19 infection in ICU patients: an observational cohort study.
World journal of emergency surgery : WJES. 2020;(1):41
BACKGROUND Iron metabolism and immune response to SARS-CoV-2 have not been described yet in intensive care patients, although they are likely involved in Covid-19 pathogenesis. METHODS We performed an observational study during the peak of pandemic in our intensive care unit, dosing D-dimer, C-reactive protein, troponin T, lactate dehydrogenase, ferritin, serum iron, transferrin, transferrin saturation, transferrin soluble receptor, lymphocyte count and NK, CD3, CD4, CD8 and B subgroups of 31 patients during the first 2 weeks of their ICU stay. Correlation with mortality and severity at the time of admission was tested with the Spearman coefficient and Mann-Whitney test. Trends over time were tested with the Kruskal-Wallis analysis. RESULTS Lymphopenia is severe and constant, with a nadir on day 2 of ICU stay (median 0.555 109/L; interquartile range (IQR) 0.450 109/L); all lymphocytic subgroups are dramatically reduced in critically ill patients, while CD4/CD8 ratio remains normal. Neither ferritin nor lymphocyte count follows significant trends in ICU patients. Transferrin saturation is extremely reduced at ICU admission (median 9%; IQR 7%), then significantly increases at days 3 to 6 (median 33%, IQR 26.5%, p value 0.026). The same trend is observed with serum iron levels (median 25.5 μg/L, IQR 69 μg/L at admission; median 73 μg/L, IQR 56 μg/L on days 3 to 6) without reaching statistical significance. Hyperferritinemia is constant during intensive care stay: however, its dosage might be helpful in individuating patients developing haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. D-dimer is elevated and progressively increases from admission (median 1319 μg/L; IQR 1285 μg/L) to days 3 to 6 (median 6820 μg/L; IQR 6619 μg/L), despite not reaching significant results. We describe trends of all the abovementioned parameters during ICU stay. CONCLUSIONS The description of iron metabolism and lymphocyte count in Covid-19 patients admitted to the intensive care unit provided with this paper might allow a wider understanding of SARS-CoV-2 pathophysiology.
Persisting alterations of iron homeostasis in COVID-19 are associated with non-resolving lung pathologies and poor patients' performance: a prospective observational cohort study.
Respiratory research. 2020;(1):276
BACKGROUND Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is frequently associated with hyperinflammation and hyperferritinemia. The latter is related to increased mortality in COVID-19. Still, it is not clear if iron dysmetabolism is mechanistically linked to COVID-19 pathobiology. METHODS We herein present data from the ongoing prospective, multicentre, observational CovILD cohort study (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04416100), which systematically follows up patients after COVID-19. 109 participants were evaluated 60 days after onset of first COVID-19 symptoms including clinical examination, chest computed tomography and laboratory testing. RESULTS We investigated subjects with mild to critical COVID-19, of which the majority received hospital treatment. 60 days after disease onset, 30% of subjects still presented with iron deficiency and 9% had anemia, mostly categorized as anemia of inflammation. Anemic patients had increased levels of inflammation markers such as interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein and survived a more severe course of COVID-19. Hyperferritinemia was still present in 38% of all individuals and was more frequent in subjects with preceding severe or critical COVID-19. Analysis of the mRNA expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells demonstrated a correlation of increased ferritin and cytokine mRNA expression in these patients. Finally, persisting hyperferritinemia was significantly associated with severe lung pathologies in computed tomography scans and a decreased performance status as compared to patients without hyperferritinemia. DISCUSSION Alterations of iron homeostasis can persist for at least two months after the onset of COVID-19 and are closely associated with non-resolving lung pathologies and impaired physical performance. Determination of serum iron parameters may thus be a easy to access measure to monitor the resolution of COVID-19. TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT04416100.