Regulation of the expression of proinflammatory cytokines induced by SARS-CoV-2

World J Clin Cases. 2021 Mar 6;9(7):1513-1523. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v9.i7.1513.


An outbreak of a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It has spread rapidly through China and many other countries, causing a global pandemic. Since February 2020, over 28 countries/regions have reported confirmed cases. Individuals with the infection known as coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) have similar clinical features as severe acute respiratory syndrome first encountered 17 years ago, with fever, cough, and upper airway congestion, along with high production of proinflammatory cytokines (PICs), which form a cytokine storm. PICs induced by COVID-19 include interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. The production of cytokines is regulated by activated nuclear factor-kB and involves downstream pathways such as Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators transcription. Protein expression is also regulated by post-translational modification of chromosomal markers. Lysine residues in the peptide tails stretching out from the core of histones bind the sequence upstream of the coding portion of genomic DNA. Covalent modification, particularly methylation, activates or represses gene transcription. PICs have been reported to be induced by histone modification and stimulate exudation of hyaluronic acid, which is implicated in the occurrence of COVID-19. These findings indicate the impact of the expression of PICs on the pathogenesis and therapeutic targeting of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Histone; Post-translational modification; Proinflammatory cytokines; SARS-CoV-2; Transcription factor.

Publication types

  • Review