Thymosin Alpha 1 Mitigates Cytokine Storm in Blood Cells From Coronavirus Disease 2019 Patients

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Dec 5;8(1):ofaa588. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofaa588. eCollection 2021 Jan.


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by immune-mediated lung injury and complex alterations of the immune system, such as lymphopenia and cytokine storm, that have been associated with adverse outcomes underlining a fundamental role of host response in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and the pathogenesis of the disease. Thymosin alpha 1 (Tα1) is one of the molecules used in the management of COVID-19, because it is known to restore the homeostasis of the immune system during infections and cancer.

Methods: In this study, we captured the interconnected biological processes regulated by Tα1 in CD8+ T cells under inflammatory conditions.

Results: Genes associated with cytokine signaling and production were upregulated in blood cells from patients with COVID-19, and the ex vivo treatment with Tα1-mitigated cytokine expression, and inhibited lymphocyte activation in a CD8+ T-cell subset specifically.

Conclusion: These data suggest the potential role of Tα1 in modulating the immune response homeostasis and the cytokine storm in vivo.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; Thymosin alpha 1; cytokine storm; enrichment analysis; immune modulation.