In plain sight: the role of alpha-1-antitrypsin in COVID-19 pathogenesis and therapeutics.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
K. Y. OguntuyoBenhur Lee


Entry of SARS-CoV-2 is facilitated by endogenous and exogenous proteases. These proteases proteolytically activate the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and are key modulators of virus tropism. We show that SARS-CoV-2 naïve serum exhibits significant inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 entry. We identify alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), and to a lesser degree, alpha-2-macroglobulin (A2M) as highly abundant serum protease inhibitors that potently restrict protease-mediated entry of SARS-CoV-2. AAT inhibition of protease-mediated SARS-CoV-2 entry in vitro occurs at concentrations far below what is present in serum and bronchoalveolar tissues, suggesting that AAT effects are physiologically relevant. Moreover, AAT mutations that have been characterized to affect abundance or function are highly prevalent. In addition to the effects that AAT may have on viral entry itself, we argue that the anti-inflammatory and coagulation regulatory activity of AAT have implications for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pathogenicity, SARS-CoV-2 tissue restriction, convalescent plasma therapies, and even potentially AAT therapy.

Methods Mentioned

cleavage assay
bronchoalveolar lavage

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