Effect of Common Medications on the Expression of SARS-CoV-2 Entry Receptors in Kidney Tissue

Clin Transl Sci. 2020 Nov;13(6):1048-1054. doi: 10.1111/cts.12862. Epub 2020 Aug 29.


Besides the respiratory system, severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was shown to affect other essential organs such as the kidneys. Early kidney involvement during the course of infection was associated with worse outcomes, which could be attributed to the direct SARS-CoV-2 infection of kidney cells. In this study, the effect of commonly used medications on the expression of SARS-CoV-2 receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)2, and TMPRSS2 protein in kidney tissues was evaluated. This was done by in silico analyses of publicly available transcriptomic databases of kidney tissues of rats treated with multiple doses of commonly used medications. Of 59 tested medications, 56% modified ACE2 expression, whereas 24% modified TMPRSS2 expression. ACE2 was increased with only a few of the tested medication groups, namely the renin-angiotensin inhibitors, such as enalapril, antibacterial agents, such as nitrofurantoin, and the proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole. The majority of the other medications decreased ACE2 expression to variable degrees with allopurinol and cisplatin causing the most noticeable downregulation. The expression level of TMPRSS2 was increased with a number of medications, such as diclofenac, furosemide, and dexamethasone, whereas other medications, such as allopurinol, suppressed the expression of this gene. The prolonged exposure to combinations of these medications could regulate the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in a way that may affect kidney susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Data presented here suggest that we should be vigilant about the potential effects of commonly used medications on kidney tissue expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / genetics*
  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Coronavirus / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*


  • Receptors, Coronavirus
  • Ace2 protein, rat
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • serine endopeptidase