Evidence of the COVID-19 Virus Targeting the CNS: Tissue Distribution, Host-Virus Interaction, and Proposed Neurotropic Mechanisms

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2020 Apr 1;11(7):995-998. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.0c00122. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Abstract

The recent outbreak of coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19) has gripped the world with apprehension and has evoked a scare of epic proportion regarding its potential to spread and infect humans worldwide. As we are in the midst of an ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, scientists are struggling to understand how it resembles and differs from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) at the genomic and transcriptomic level. In a short time following the outbreak, it has been shown that, similar to SARS-CoV, COVID-19 virus exploits the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to gain entry inside the cells. This finding raises the curiosity of investigating the expression of ACE2 in neurological tissue and determining the possible contribution of neurological tissue damage to the morbidity and mortality caused by COIVD-19. Here, we investigate the density of the expression levels of ACE2 in the CNS, the host-virus interaction and relate it to the pathogenesis and complications seen in the recent cases resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. Also, we debate the need for a model for staging COVID-19 based on neurological tissue involvement.

Keywords: ACE2 tissue distribution; COVID-19; Coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; host−virus interaction; spike protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System / virology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / physiopathology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution

Substances

  • Receptors, Virus
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • angiotensin converting enzyme 2

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2