Friday, April 3, 2020

COVID-19: Coronavirus and hemoglobin

Hello Awesomites!

Please refer to the diagrams for better understanding.

Why do we have abnormal hemoglobin-related biochemical indices in COVID-19 patients?
Reports demonstrate that the hemoglobin and neutrophil counts decrease in most patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and values of serum ferritin, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, albumin, and lactate dehydrogenase increase significantly.

What makes hemoglobin an attractive molecule for the coronavirus?
Porphyrins!

Porphyrins in the human body are mostly iron porphyrins i.e heme. And a lot of heme is not free, but bound to hemoglobin. Viruses require porphyrins to survive. Therefore, the novel coronavirus targets hemoglobin, attacks heme, and hunts porphyrins.


Structure of SARS-CoV-2



Image by Upasana Yadav

The possible mechanism is that orf1ab bound to the alpha chain and attacks the beta chain, causing conformational changes in the alpha and beta chains; ORF3 attacks the beta chain and exposes heme. ORF10 then quickly attaches to the beta chain and directly impacts the iron atoms on the heme of the beta chain. The heme is dissociated into porphyrin, and orf1ab finally captures porphyrin. Orf1ab plays a vital role throughout the attack. Attack of oxidized hemoglobin by viral proteins leads to less and less hemoglobin that can carry oxygen. The invasion of viral proteins on deoxidized hemoglobin will cause less and less hemoglobin that can carry carbon dioxide.

This study found that ORF8 and surface glycoprotein had a function to combine with porphyrin to form a complex, while orf1ab, ORF10, ORF3a coordinately attack the heme on the 1-beta chain of hemoglobin to dissociate the iron to form the porphyrin. This mechanism of the virus inhibited the normal metabolic pathway of heme, and made people show symptoms of the disease.

What causes the high infectivity of the novel coronavirus?
Medical workers have detected the novel coronavirus from urine, saliva, feces, and blood. The virus can also live in body fluids. In such media, porphyrin is a prevalent substance. At the beginning of life, virus molecules with porphyrins directly move into the original membrane structure by porphyrin permeability. This study showed that the E2 glycoprotein and Envelope protein of the novel coronavirus could bind well to porphyrins. Therefore, the coronavirus may also directly penetrate the human cell membrane through porphyrin. (Means If the virus can bind with porphyrins, it can enter these secretory cells without ACE2 receptors by using the membrane permeability)

What is the importance of knowing the above information?
The drugs based on this mechanism: Chloroquine and Favipiravir.

The primary function of the Envelope protein is to help the virus enter host cells. The primary role of Favipiravir is to prevent the virus from entering host cells and catching free porphyrins. Favipiravir's ability to improve respiratory distress is lower. Favipiravir can only prevent the binding of Envelope protein and porphyrin.

Chloroquine could prevent orf1ab, ORF3a, and ORF10 from attacking the heme to form the porphyrin and inhibit the binding of ORF8 and surface glycoproteins to porphyrins to a certain extent, effectively relieve the symptoms of respiratory distress.

The infectivity of the nCoV pneumonia was not completely prevented by the drugs, because the binding of E2 glycoprotein and porphyrin was not inhibited.

Note for Diabetic patients
Diabetic patients and older people have higher glycated hemoglobin. Glycated hemoglobin was reduced by the attack, which made patients' blood sugar unstable. Since the porphyrin complexes of the virus produced in the human body inhibited the heme anabolic pathway.
Written by Upasana Yadav
(Courtesy:-Thank you Ikan for all the help) 

References:
1. Wenzhong, liu; hualan, Li (2020): COVID-19: Attacks the 1-Beta Chain of Hemoglobin and Captures the Porphyrin to Inhibit Human Heme Metabolism. ChemRxiv. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.11938173.v5
Link to the article: https://chemrxiv.org/articles/COVID-19_Disease_ORF8_and_Surface_Glycoprotein_Inhibit_Heme_Metabolism_by_Binding_to_Porphyrin/11938173

3 comments:

  1. I'm wondering if COVID's attack on heme explains why African Americans, who are prone to cycle cell, are dying at a higher per capita rate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My guess with regards to African Americans, men, and people of Asian and Mediterranean origin may be more a side effect of HCQ treatment. HCQ is having great successes, and I still support it as a cheap and effective option for some. However, protocol is usually to treat before G6PD enzyme deficiency lab results are received. African Americans, men, and people of Asian and Mediterranean origin have higher rates of having this enzyme deficiency, which causes treatments with such things as hydroxychloroquine, High Dose Vitamin C, methylene blue, etc to have worse outcomes, not better.

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