Sunday, April 5, 2020

What does COVID-19 have to do with heart attack?

Ground Glass Opacity's in Lungs
Natural Killer (NK) cells are depleted, but neutrophils are elevated in the lungs of hospitalized Coronavirus patients the world over. This is the sign of immune system chaos that typically precedes disease progression. How COVID-19 generates this condition is unknown, but surviving NK cells express NKG2A inhibitory receptors and are exhausted.

Typically patient CT scans reveal "Ground Glass Opacity's", fuzzy areas in lung scans that identify affected tissues. Without recovery at this point, the disease advances, tissues of the lungs can become infected, pneumonia may set it and soon after the patient may die.

It was recently published by doctors at Northwestern and UCLA that in around 20% of COVID-19 cases Troponin enzyme was elevated and correlated with very high mortality rates. Troponin is almost exclusively expressed in heart attack patients, so what does it have to do with COVID-19?

A different study tracked NK cells in lungs and linked pulmonary inflammation with depleted NK cells and elevated neutrophils. It found pulmonary NK cells control neutrophil intravascular motility and response to acute inflammation. Intriguingly, in a model of experimental myocardial infarction, NK cell depletion resulted in increased neutrophilic pathology in the lungs of mice, raising the question of how this influence is mediated. The study failed to identify the function of Ly6G, which by June 2019 remained unclear to the scientists what role it might play in the transfer of information between NK cells and neutrophils. A different team recently published a joint report showing lymphocyte antigen 6 family member E (Ly6E) impaired Coronavirus fusion and conferred immune control of viral disease. The link to Ly6 in these different reports may be important to front-line teams working to identify treatments.

In 2013 a joint China-Japan team had already published; "Lung Natural Killer Cells Play a Major Counter-Regulatory Role in Pulmonary Vascular Hyperpermeability After Myocardial Infarction". The report documented the counter-intuitive action of NK cells in lungs of mice induced with heart attack. Similarities to the reported behavior of NK cells and neutrophils in late stage COVID-19 patients expressing Troponin is remarkable. The team rescued the respiratory phenotype in NK cell–depleted mice by the adoptive transfer of NK cells from wild-type mice, but not from IL-10 knockout mice. All this may explain why preliminary successes have been achieved treating patients with plasma transfers or from patients who had recovered from Corona or with Mesenchymal stem cells.

Ly6 is only present in mice, but human neutrophils express the structurally related Ly6G molecule CD177 (19q13.31), a member of the Ly6/uPAR (urokinase plasminogen activator receptor) family. Interestingly, antibodies against CD177 have been shown to inhibit neutrophil transmigration across an endothelial monolayer, potentially by interfering with an interaction between Ly6G and PECAM1.

One interesting approach, at the right dosage may be to deploy a broad anti-venom aimed at 3TFx toxins because of their close resemblance to COVID-19 and Ly6 protein structures especially at the S1-CTD contact point. If anti-venom performs anywhere close to COVID-19 binding or connector domains it may impede it's entry to cells.
HCoV binding ACE2

A scientific conflict is brewing over the use ACE receptor inhibitor Captoptril against COVID-19 binding ACE. The drug is an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor derived from a peptide discovered in the venom of the lancehead viper (Bothrops jararaca). This debate over ACE2 upregulation may be preventing its broader use in patients despite its potential to reduce the capacity of COVID-19 to bind cells.

Its well known that several toxins and venoms can also lead to heart muscle injury, which COVID-19 seems to be emulating. The combination of viral immune response and false toxin signalling, that raises Troponin levels seems sufficient to trigger the immune system chaos that precedes typical disease progression and self-induced (possibly autoimmune) infection.

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