Should ACE2 be given a chance in COVID-19 therapeutics: A semi-systematic review of strategies enhancing ACE2

Eur J Pharmacol. 2020 Sep 11;173545. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173545. Online ahead of print.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in almost 18 million cases of COVID-19 (Corona virus disease-2019) and more than 670000 deaths worldwide since December 2019. In the absence of effective antiviral therapy and vaccine, treatment of COVID-19 is largely symptomatic. By making use of its spike (S) protein, the virus binds to its primary human cell receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) which is present in the pulmonary epithelial cells as well as other organs. SARS-CoV-2 may cause a downregulation of ACE2. ACE2 plays a protective role in the pulmonary system through its Mas-receptor and alamandine-MrgD-TGR7 pathways. Loss of this protective effect could be a major component of COVID-19 pathogenesis. An attractive strategy in SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics would be to augment ACE2 either directly by supplementation or indirectly through drugs which increase its levels or stimulate its downstream players. In this semi-systematic review, we have analysed the pathophysiological interplay between ACE and ACE2 in the cardiopulmonary system, the modulation of these two proteins by SARS-CoV-2, and potential therapeutic avenues targeting ACE-Ang II and ACE2-Ang (1-7) axes, that can be utilized against COVID-19 disease progression.

Keywords: Ang (1–7); Angiotensin II; Angiotensin converting enzyme-2; COVID-19; Diabetes; RAAS.