Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an epidemic disease characterized by rapid infection and a high death toll. The clinical diagnosis of patients with COVID-19 has risen sharply, especially in Western countries. Globally, an effective treatment for COVID-19 is still limited. Vitamin A (VA) exhibits pharmacological activity in the management of pneumonia. Thus, we reason that VA may potentially serve as an anti-SARS-CoV-2 regimen. In this study, bioinformatics analysis and computation assays using a network pharmacology method were conducted to explore and uncover the therapeutic targets and mechanisms of VA for treating COVID-19. We identified candidate targets, pharmacological functions, and therapeutic pathways of VA against SARS-CoV-2. Bioinformatics findings indicate that the mechanisms of action of VA against SARS-CoV-2 include enrichment of immunoreaction, inhibition of inflammatory reaction, and biological processes related to reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, seven core targets of VA against COVID-19, including MAPK1, IL10, EGFR, ICAM1, MAPK14, CAT, and PRKCB were identified. With this bioinformatics-based report, we reveal, for the first time, the anti-SARS-CoV-2 functions and mechanisms of VA and suggest that VA may act as a potent treatment option for COVID-19, a deadly global epidemic.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; mechanism; network pharmacology; target; vitamin A; COVID-19.