The study entitled “A potential role of the CD47-SIRPalpha axis in the pathogenesis of COVID-19” was published by the scientific journal Current Issues in Molecular Biology.
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. While many people develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms when infected with SARS-CoV-2, others develop serious and life-threatening illnesses.
Researchers have found that infection of cells with SARS-CoV-2 causes levels of a protein called CD47 to increase on the cell surface.
CD47 is a so-called “don’t eat me” signal to the immune system’s defenses that protect cells from destruction. The virus-induced CD47 on the surface of infected cells is likely to protect them from recognition by the immune system, allowing the production of larger amounts of virus, leading to more serious disease.
Well-known risk factors for severe COVID-19, such as advanced age and diabetes, are associated with higher CD47 levels. High levels of CD47 also contribute to high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for complications from COVID-19 such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.
Data suggests that the high levels of CD47 induced by age and the virus contribute to severe COVID-19 by preventing an effective immune response and increasing tissue and organ damage associated with the disease.
As therapies targeting CD47 are in development, this finding may lead to improved COVID-19 therapies.
Professor Martin Michaelis, University of Kent, said: “It’s exciting. We may have identified a major factor associated with severe COVID-19. This is a big step in the fight against the disease and we can now expect further progress in conception. therapeutic. “
Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Goethe-University Frankfurt, said: “This additional information on the disease processes underlying COVID-19 may help us design better therapies, as well as appreciate the importance of the extent of the research conducted. In this way, we have made a major breakthrough and shown that the fight against the disease continues. ”