Background: Decline in mitochondrial function occurs with aging and may increase mortality. We discuss mitochondrial contribution to Covid-19 sepsis, specifically the complex interaction of innate immune function, viral replication, hyper-inflammatory state, and HIF-α/Sirtuin pathways.
Methods: Articles from PubMed/Medline searches were reviewed using the combination of terms "SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, sepsis, mitochondria, aging, and immunometabolism".
Results: Evidence indicates that mitochondria in senescent cells may be dysfunctional and unable to keep up with hypermetabolic demands associated with Covid-19 sepsis. Mitochondrial proteins may serve as damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) activating innate immunity. Disruption in normal oxidative phosphorylation pathways contributes to elevated ROS which activates sepsis cascade through HIF-α/Sirtuin pathway. Viral-mitochondrial interaction may be necessary for replication and increased viral load. Hypoxia and hyper-inflammatory state contribute to increased mortality associated with Covid-19 sepsis.
Conclusions: Aging is associated with worse outcomes in sepsis. Modulating Sirtuin activity is emerging as therapeutic agent in sepsis. HIF-α, levels of mitochondrial DNA, and other mitochondrial DAMP molecules may also serve as useful biomarker and need to be investigated. These mechanisms should be explored specifically for Covid-19-related sepsis. Understanding newly discovered regulatory mechanisms may lead to the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets.
Keywords: Covid-19; DAMP; HIF-α; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Sirtuins; Viral replication.