Journal of Neuroinflammation
BACKGROUND: Plasma gelsolin (pGSN) is an important part of the blood actin buffer that prevents negative consequences of possible F-actin deposition in the microcirculation and has various functions during host immune response. Recent reports reveal that severe COVID-19 correlates with reduced levels of pGSN. Therefore, using an in vitro system, we investigated whether pGSN could attenuate increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) during its exposure to the portion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein containing the receptor binding domain (S1 subunit).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two- and three-dimensional models of the human BBB were constructed using the human cerebral microvascular endothelial cell line hCMEC/D3 and exposed to physiologically relevant shear stress to mimic perfusion in the central nervous system (CNS). Trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER) as well as immunostaining and Western blotting of tight junction (TJ) proteins assessed barrier integrity in the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and pGSN. The IncuCyte Live Imaging system evaluated the motility of the endothelial cells. Magnetic bead-based ELISA was used to determine cytokine secretion. Additionally, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed gene expression of proteins from signaling pathways that are associated with the immune response.
RESULTS: pGSN reversed S1-induced BBB permeability in both 2D and 3D BBB models in the presence of shear stress. BBB models exposed to pGSN also exhibited attenuated pro-inflammatory signaling pathways (PI3K, AKT, MAPK, NF-κB), reduced cytokine secretion (IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α), and increased expression of proteins that form intercellular TJ (ZO-1, occludin, claudin-5).
CONCLUSION: Due to its anti-inflammatory and protective effects on the brain endothelium, pGSN has the potential to be an alternative therapeutic target for patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially those suffering neurological complications of COVID-19.
Suprewicz, Ł., Tran, K.A., Piktel, E. et al. Recombinant human plasma gelsolin reverses increased permeability of the blood–brain barrier induced by the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. J Neuroinflammation 19, 282 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-022-02642-4
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