Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Although males and females are at equivalent risk of infection, males are more prone to develop a higher severity disease, regardless of age. The factors that mediate susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and transmission are still under investigation. A potential role has been attributed to differences in the immune systems response to viral antigens between males and females as well as to different regulatory actions played by sex-related hormones on the two crucial molecular effectors for SARS-CoV-2 infection, TMPRSS2 and ACE2. While few and controversial data about TMPRSS2 transcript regulation in lung cells are emerging, no data on protein expression and activity of TMPRSS2 have been reported. Aim of the present study was to search for possible modulatory actions played by sex-related hormones on TMPRSS2 and ACE2 expression in Calu-3 cells, to test the effects of sex-steroids on the expression of the 32kDa C-term fragment derived from autocatalitic cleavage of TMPRSS2 and its impact on priming of transiently transfected spike protein. Cells were stimulated with different concentrations of methyltrienolone (R1881) or estradiol for 30 h. No difference in mRNA and protein expression levels of full length TMPRSS2 was observed. However, the 32 kDa cleaved serine protease domain was increased after 100 nM R1881 (+2.36 ± 1.13 fold-increase vs control untreated cells, p < 0.05) and 10 nM estradiol (+1.90 ± 0.64, fold-increase vs control untreated cells, p < 0.05) treatment. Both R1881 and estradiol significantly increased the activating proteolytic cleavage of SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) transfected in Calu-3 cells (+1.76 ± 0.18 and +1.99±,0.76 increase in S cleavage products at R1881 100nM and 10 nM estradiol treatment, respectively, p < 0.001 and p < 0.05 vs control untreated cells, respectively). Finally, no significant differences in ACE2 expression were observed between hormones-stimulated cells and untreated control cells. Altogether, these data suggest that both male and female sex-related hormones are able to induce a proteolityc activation of TMPRSS2, thus promoting viral infection, in agreement with the observation that males and females are equally infected by SARS-CoV-2.

TMPRSS2 Expression and Activity Modulation by Sex-Related Hormones in Lung Calu-3 Cells: Impact on Gender-Specific SARS-CoV-2 Infection / D. Treppiedi, G. Marra, G. Di Muro, R. Catalano, F. Mangili, E. Esposito, A.M. Barbieri, M. Arosio, G. Mantovani, E. Peverelli. - In: FRONTIERS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY. - ISSN 1664-2392. - 13:(2022), pp. 862789.1-862789.7. [10.3389/fendo.2022.862789]

TMPRSS2 Expression and Activity Modulation by Sex-Related Hormones in Lung Calu-3 Cells: Impact on Gender-Specific SARS-CoV-2 Infection

A.M. Barbieri;M. Arosio;E. Peverelli
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Although males and females are at equivalent risk of infection, males are more prone to develop a higher severity disease, regardless of age. The factors that mediate susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and transmission are still under investigation. A potential role has been attributed to differences in the immune systems response to viral antigens between males and females as well as to different regulatory actions played by sex-related hormones on the two crucial molecular effectors for SARS-CoV-2 infection, TMPRSS2 and ACE2. While few and controversial data about TMPRSS2 transcript regulation in lung cells are emerging, no data on protein expression and activity of TMPRSS2 have been reported. Aim of the present study was to search for possible modulatory actions played by sex-related hormones on TMPRSS2 and ACE2 expression in Calu-3 cells, to test the effects of sex-steroids on the expression of the 32kDa C-term fragment derived from autocatalitic cleavage of TMPRSS2 and its impact on priming of transiently transfected spike protein. Cells were stimulated with different concentrations of methyltrienolone (R1881) or estradiol for 30 h. No difference in mRNA and protein expression levels of full length TMPRSS2 was observed. However, the 32 kDa cleaved serine protease domain was increased after 100 nM R1881 (+2.36 ± 1.13 fold-increase vs control untreated cells, p < 0.05) and 10 nM estradiol (+1.90 ± 0.64, fold-increase vs control untreated cells, p < 0.05) treatment. Both R1881 and estradiol significantly increased the activating proteolytic cleavage of SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) transfected in Calu-3 cells (+1.76 ± 0.18 and +1.99±,0.76 increase in S cleavage products at R1881 100nM and 10 nM estradiol treatment, respectively, p < 0.001 and p < 0.05 vs control untreated cells, respectively). Finally, no significant differences in ACE2 expression were observed between hormones-stimulated cells and untreated control cells. Altogether, these data suggest that both male and female sex-related hormones are able to induce a proteolityc activation of TMPRSS2, thus promoting viral infection, in agreement with the observation that males and females are equally infected by SARS-CoV-2.
androgen; estradiol; SARS-CoV-2; Spike; TMPRSS2
Settore MED/13 - Endocrinologia
Settore MED/46 - Scienze Tecniche di Medicina di Laboratorio
2022
31-mag-2022
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/952629
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