Impact of COVID-19 on Mitochondrial-Based Immunity in Aging and Age-Related Diseases

Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 Jan 12:12:614650. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.614650. eCollection 2020.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a deadly pandemic with surging mortality rates and no cure. COVID-19 is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with a range of clinical symptoms, including cough, fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, muscle pain, and a loss of smell or taste. Aged individuals with compromised immunity are highly susceptible to COVID-19 and the likelihood of mortality increases with age and the presence of comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emerging evidence suggests that COVID-19 highjacks mitochondria of immune cells, replicates within mitochondrial structures, and impairs mitochondrial dynamics leading to cell death. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and are largely involved in maintaining cell immunity, homeostasis, and cell survival/death. Increasing evidence suggests that mitochondria from COVID-19 infected cells are highly vulnerable, and vulnerability increases with age. The purpose of our article is to summarize the role of various age-related comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, and neurological diseases in increasing mortality rates amongst the elderly with COVID-19. Our article also highlights the interaction between coronavirus and mitochondrial dynamics in immune cells. We also highlight the current treatments, lifestyles, and safety measures that can help protect against COVID-19. Further research is urgently needed to understand the molecular mechanisms between the mitochondrial virus and disease progression in COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; diabetes; immune response; lifestyle; mitochondrial dynamics; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review