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The association between obesity and poor outcome after COVID-19 indicates a potential therapeutic role for montelukast

It is widely believed that infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus triggers a disproportionate immune response which causes a devastating systemic injury, particularly in individuals with obesity, itself a chronic, multi-organ inflammatory disease. Immune cells accumulate in visceral adipose tissue and together with paracrine adipocytes release a wide range of biologically active cytokines (including IL-1β, IL5, IL6 and IL8) that can result in both local, pulmonary and systemic inflammation. A more intense 'cytokine storm' is postulated as the mechanism behind the extreme immune response seen in severe COVID-19. It is striking how dangerous the combination of obesity and COVID-19 is, resulting in a greater risk of ICU admission and a higher mortality. Furthermore, patients from a BAME background appear to have increased mortality after SARS-CoV-2 infection; they also have a higher prevalence of central obesity and its metabolic complications. In the absence of an effective vaccine, the therapeutic potential of immune-modulating drugs is a priority, but the development of new drugs is expensive and time-consuming. A more pragmatic solution would be to seek to repurpose existing drugs, particularly those that might suppress the heightened cytokine activity seen in obesity, the major risk factor for a poor prognosis in COVID-19. Montelukast is a cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonist licensed to treat asthma and allergic rhinitis. It has been shown to diminish pulmonary response to antigen, tissue eosinophilia and IL-5 expression in inflammatory cells. It has also been shown to decrease elevated levels of IL-1β and IL8 in humans with viral upper respiratory tract infections compared with placebo-treated patients. In addition, in silico studies have demonstrated a high binding affinity of the montelukast molecule to the terminal site of the virus's main protease enzyme which is needed for virus RNA synthesis and replication. Montelukast, which is cheap, safe and widely a... Full description

Year of Publication: 2020
Contained in: Medical hypotheses Vol. 143 (2020), p. 109883
All journal articles: Search for all articles in this journal
Language: English
Contributors: Almerie, Muhammad Qutayba | Author
Kerrigan, David Daniel
Full text access:
Electronic availability is being checked...
Links: Full Text (dx.doi.org)
Keywords: 3C-like proteinase, Coronavirus
EC 3.4.22.-
Journal Article
MHM278SD3E
montelukast
Additional Keywords: *Betacoronavirus
Acetates
Antiviral Agents
Coronavirus Infections
Cysteine Endopeptidases
Cytokine Release Syndrome
Drug Repositioning
Humans
Immunologic Factors
Inflammation
Leukotriene Antagonists
Obesity
Pandemics
Pneumonia, Viral
Quinolines
Viral Nonstructural Proteins
ISSN: 1532-2777
Note: Copyright: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine
Notes: Date Completed 13.10.2020
Date Revised 13.10.2020
published: Print-Electronic
Citation Status MEDLINE
Copyright: From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine
PMID:
    32492562
Physical Description: Online-Ressource
ID (e.g. DOI, URN): 10.1016/j.mehy.2020.109883
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520 |a It is widely believed that infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus triggers a disproportionate immune response which causes a devastating systemic injury, particularly in individuals with obesity, itself a chronic, multi-organ inflammatory disease. Immune cells accumulate in visceral adipose tissue and together with paracrine adipocytes release a wide range of biologically active cytokines (including IL-1β, IL5, IL6 and IL8) that can result in both local, pulmonary and systemic inflammation. A more intense 'cytokine storm' is postulated as the mechanism behind the extreme immune response seen in severe COVID-19. It is striking how dangerous the combination of obesity and COVID-19 is, resulting in a greater risk of ICU admission and a higher mortality. Furthermore, patients from a BAME background appear to have increased mortality after SARS-CoV-2 infection; they also have a higher prevalence of central obesity and its metabolic complications. In the absence of an effective vaccine, the therapeutic potential of immune-modulating drugs is a priority, but the development of new drugs is expensive and time-consuming. A more pragmatic solution would be to seek to repurpose existing drugs, particularly those that might suppress the heightened cytokine activity seen in obesity, the major risk factor for a poor prognosis in COVID-19. Montelukast is a cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonist licensed to treat asthma and allergic rhinitis. It has been shown to diminish pulmonary response to antigen, tissue eosinophilia and IL-5 expression in inflammatory cells. It has also been shown to decrease elevated levels of IL-1β and IL8 in humans with viral upper respiratory tract infections compared with placebo-treated patients. In addition, in silico studies have demonstrated a high binding affinity of the montelukast molecule to the terminal site of the virus's main protease enzyme which is needed for virus RNA synthesis and replication. Montelukast, which is cheap, safe and widely available would appear to have the potential to be an ideal candidate drug for clinical trials, particularly in early stage disease before irreparable tissue damage has already occurred. HYPOTHESIS: Through a direct anti-viral effect, or by suppression of heightened cytokine release in response to SARS-CoV-2, montelukast will reduce the severity of immune-mediated multiorgan damage resulting from COVID-19, particularly in patients with central obesity and metabolic syndrome 
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