New laboratory studies have claimed that cholesterol may help the coronavirus infect human cells by acting as a service that mimics the description of “taxis”.
The results may explain why people with metabolic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, who often have high levels of cholesterol, make up a disproportionate number of patients who exhibit severe Covid-19 symptoms.
The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes “Covid-19”, can bind to cholesterol particles because it binds to normal cell receptors, called SR-B1.
This aids in setting the pathogen, so that its spiny protein can bind to the ACE2 receptor, allowing it to infect the cell.
A study published in Nature Metabolism By researchers at the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, in the role of “good” cholesterol, known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL), in infection with the Coronavirus.
The study specifically looked at the SR-B1 receptor, which binds to cholesterol particles and is found in cells throughout the human body, including the lungs.
The study found that SARS-CoV-2 could not directly exploit this receptor, but could take advantage of the SR-B1 cholesterol binding process in order to infiltrate cells.
The viral protrusions on the Coronavirus consist of two parts, which are called subunit 1 and subunit 2.
And in their experiments, Chinese scientists have found a subunit that can bind to cholesterol. This means that when cholesterol naturally passes into its receptor, it brings the coronavirus to the cell surface as well.
The researchers say this “enhances the uptake of the virus,” and the cholesterol receptor “facilitates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells that express ACE2 by increasing virus binding.”
The researchers then discovered that by blocking and neutralizing SR-B1, the infection could be prevented.
They say targeting the SR-B1 receptor could be a potential avenue for future treatments.
“The results of our study demonstrate that SR-B1 facilitates SARS-CoV-2 cellular attachment, entry and infection,” the researchers explain in their paper. Thus, SR-B1 may represent a therapeutic target for reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection.
This is likely to benefit people with certain comorbidities. People with heart disease and diabetes, who are more likely to have high HDL levels, are among those who will benefit the most.
“Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.
And nearly half of patients with “Covid-19” suffer from chronic underlying diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, brain disease and diabetes.
In addition, an increase in the death rate “Covid-19” was observed in patients with obesity or diabetes.
Source: Daily Mail