The Role of Lipid Metabolism in COVID-19 Virus Infection and as a Drug Target

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 17;21(10):3544. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103544.


The current Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic has infected over two million people and resulted in the death of over one hundred thousand people at the time of writing this review. The disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Even though multiple vaccines and treatments are under development so far, the disease is only slowing down under extreme social distancing measures that are difficult to maintain. SARS-COV-2 is an enveloped virus that is surrounded by a lipid bilayer. Lipids are fundamental cell components that play various biological roles ranging from being a structural building block to a signaling molecule as well as a central energy store. The role lipids play in viral infection involves the fusion of the viral membrane to the host cell, viral replication, and viral endocytosis and exocytosis. Since lipids play a crucial function in the viral life cycle, we asked whether drugs targeting lipid metabolism, such as statins, can be utilized against SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses. In this review, we discuss the role of lipid metabolism in viral infection as well as the possibility of targeting lipid metabolism to interfere with the viral life cycle.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-COV-2; coronavirus; endocytosis; lipid metabolism; sphingolipid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / metabolism*
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / metabolism*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / metabolism*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects