Protein-driven mechanism of multiorgan damage in COVID-19

Med Drug Discov. 2020 Oct 20;100069. doi: 10.1016/j.medidd.2020.100069. Online ahead of print.


We propose a new plausible mechanism by mean of which SARS-CoV-2 produces extrapulmonary damages in severe COVID-19 patients. The mechanism consist on the existence of vulnerable proteins (VPs), which are (i) mainly expressed outside the lungs; (ii) their perturbations is known to produce human diseases; and (iii) can be perturbed directly or indirectly by SARS-CoV-2 proteins. These VPs are perturbed by other proteins, which are: (i) mainly expressed in the lungs, (ii) are targeted directly by SARS-CoV-2 proteins, (iii) can navigate outside the lungs as cargo of extracellular vesicles (EVs); and (iv) can activate VPs via subdiffusive processes inside the target organ. Using bioinformatic tools and mathematical modeling we identifies 26 VPs and their 38 perturbators, which predict extracellular damages in the immunologic endocrine, cardiovascular, circulatory, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, neurologic, dermatologic, hepatic, gastrointestinal, and metabolic systems, as well as in the eyes. The identification of these VPs and their perturbators allow us to identify 27 existing drugs which are candidates to be repurposed for treating extrapulmonary damage in severe COVID-19 patients. After removal of drugs having undesirable drug-drug interactions we select 7 drugs and one natural product: apabetalone, romidepsin, silmitasertib, ozanezumab, procaine, azacitidine, amlexanox, volociximab, and ellagic acid, whose combinations can palliate the organs and systems found to be damaged by COVID-19. We found that at least 4 drugs are needed to treat all the multiorgan damages, for instance: the combination of romidepsin, silmitasertib, apabetalone and azacitidine.

Keywords: Biological networks; COVID-19; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Multiorgan damage; Protein-protein interaction; SARS-CoV-2; Subdiffusion.