COVID-19 cytokine storm: The anger of inflammation

Authors: Mehdi Mahmudpour 1Jamshid Roozbeh 2Mohsen Keshavarz 1Shokrollah Farrokhi 3Iraj Nabipour 4

Patients with COVID-19 who require ICU admission might have the cytokine storm. It is a state of out-of-control release of a variety of inflammatory cytokines. The molecular mechanism of the cytokine storm has not been explored extensively yet. The attachment of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), as its cellular receptor, triggers complex molecular events that leads to hyperinflammation. Four molecular axes that may be involved in SARS-CoV-2 driven inflammatory cytokine overproduction are addressed in this work. The virus-mediated down-regulation of ACE2 causes a burst of inflammatory cytokine release through dysregulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (ACE/angiotensin II/AT1R axis), attenuation of Mas receptor (ACE2/MasR axis), increased activation of [des-Arg9]-bradykinin (ACE2/bradykinin B1R/DABK axis), and activation of the complement system including C5a and C5b-9 components. The molecular clarification of these axes will elucidate an array of therapeutic strategies to confront the cytokine storm in order to prevent and treat COVID-19 associated acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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