Losartan Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication in Vitro
Losartan promotes cell survival following SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro
Purpose: SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with substantial mortality and high morbidity. This study tested the effect of angiotensin II type I receptor blocker, losartan, on SARS-CoV-2 replication and inhibition of the papain-like protease of the virus. Methods: The dose-dependent inhibitory effect of losartan, in concentrations from 1μM to 100μM as determined by quantitative cell analysis combining fluorescence microscopy, image processing, and cellular measurements (Cellomics analysis) on SARS-CoV-2 replication was investigated in Vero E6 cells. The impact of losartan on deubiquitination and deISGylation of SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease (PLpro) were also evaluated. Results: Losartan reduced PLpro cleavage of tetraUbiquitin to diUbiquitin. It was less effective in inhibiting PLpro’s cleavage of ISG15-AMC than Ubiquitin-AMC. To determine if losartan inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication, losartan treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infected Vero E6 was examined. Losartan treatment one hour prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection reduced levels of SARS-CoV-2 nuclear protein, an indicator of virus replication, by 80% and treatment one-hour post-infection decreased viral replication by 70%. Conclusion: Losartan was not an effective inhibitor of deubiquitinase or deISGylase activity of the PLpro but affected the SARS-CoV-2 replication of Vero E6 cells in vitro. As losartan has a favorable safety profile and is currently available it has features necessary for efficacious drug repurposing and treatment of COVID-19.
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