Similarities between the effect of SARS-CoV-2 and HCV on the cellular level, and the possible role of ion channels in COVID19 progression: a review of potential targets for diagnosis and treatment

Channels (Austin). 2020 Dec;14(1):403-412. doi: 10.1080/19336950.2020.1837439.


The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has prompted an urgent need to identify effective medicines for the prevention and treatment of the disease. A comparative analysis between SARS-CoV-2 and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) can expand the available knowledge regarding the virology and potential drug targets against these viruses. Interestingly, comparing HCV with SARS-CoV-2 reveals major similarities between them, ranging from the ion channels that are utilized, to the symptoms that are exhibited by patients. Via this comparative analysis, and from what is known about HCV, the most promising treatments for COVID-19 can focus on the reduction of viral load, treatment of pulmonary system damages, and reduction of inflammation. In particular, the drugs that show most potential in this regard include ritonavir, a combination of peg-IFN, and lumacaftor-ivacaftor. This review anaylses SARS-CoV-2 from the perspective of the role of ion homeostasis and channels in viral pathomechanism. We also highlight other novel treatment approaches that can be used for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The relevance of this review is to offer high-quality evidence that can be used as the basis for the identification of potential solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID19; HCV; SARS-COV-2; immune responses; ion channels; peg-IFN.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / metabolism*
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / metabolism*
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Hepacivirus / metabolism*
  • Hepacivirus / pathogenicity
  • Hepatitis C / metabolism
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / metabolism*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Ion Channels

Grants and funding

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.