Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). More than 143 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date, with the global death rate at 2.13%. Currently, there are no licensed therapeutics for controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection. The antiviral effects of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a cytoprotective enzyme that inhibits the inflammatory response and reduces oxidative stress, have been investigated in several viral infections. To confirm whether HO-1 suppresses SARS-CoV-2 infection, we assessed the antiviral activity of hemin, an effective and safe HO-1 inducer, in SARS-CoV-2 infection. We found that treatment with hemin efficiently suppressed SARS-CoV-2 replication (selectivity index: 249.7012). Besides, the transient expression of HO-1 using an expression vector also suppressed the growth of the virus in cells. Free iron and biliverdin, which are metabolic byproducts of heme catalysis by HO-1, also suppressed the viral infection. Additionally, hemin indirectly increased the expression of interferon-stimulated proteins known to restrict SARS-CoV-2 replication. Overall, the findings suggested that HO-1, induced by hemin, effectively suppressed SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Therefore, HO-1 could be potential therapeutic candidate for COVID-19.
Hemin as a novel candidate for treating COVID-19 via heme oxygenase-1 induction
Absent antibody production following COVID19 vaccination with mRNA in patients under immunosuppressive treatments