[Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-induced cytokine storm is closely associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity and lethality. However, drugs that are effective against inflammation to treat lethal COVID-19 are still urgently needed. Here, we constructed a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-specific CAR, and human T cells infected with this CAR (SARS-CoV-2-S CAR-T) and stimulated with spike protein mimicked the T-cell responses seen in COVID-19 patients, causing cytokine storm and displaying a distinct memory, exhausted, and regulatory T-cell phenotype. THP1 remarkably augmented cytokine release in SARS-CoV-2-S CAR-T cells when they were in coculture. Based on this “two-cell” (CAR-T and THP1 cells) model, we screened an FDA-approved drug library and found that felodipine, fasudil, imatinib, and caspofungin were effective in suppressing the release of cytokines, which was likely due to their ability to suppress the NF-κB pathway in vitro. Felodipine, fasudil, imatinib, and caspofungin were further demonstrated, although to different extents, to attenuate lethal inflammation, ameliorate severe pneumonia, and prevent mortality in a SARS-CoV-2-infected Syrian hamster model, which were also linked to their suppressive role in inflammation. In summary, we established a SARS-CoV-2-specific CAR-T-cell model that can be utilized as a tool for anti-inflammatory drug screening in a fast and high-throughput manner. The drugs identified herein have great potential for early treatment to prevent COVID-19 patients from cytokine storm-induced lethality in the clinic because they are safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible for immediate use in most countries.]

Fuente: Cellular & Molecular Immunology

Published: 02 March 2023