• Expression of SARS-CoV-2 Entry Factors in Human Alveolar Type II Cells in Aging and Emphysema

      Center for Inflammation, Translational and Clinical Lung Research (Temple University) (2021-07-06)
      Alveolar type II (ATII) cells proliferate and restore the injured epithelium. It has been described that SARS-CoV-2 infection causes diffuse alveolar damage in the lungs. However, host factors facilitating virus infection in ATII cells are not well known. We determined the SARS-CoV-2-related genes and protein expression using RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively, in ATII cells isolated from young and elderly non-smokers, smokers, and ex-smokers. Cells were also obtained from lung transplants of emphysema patients. ACE2 has been identified as the receptor for SARS-CoV-2, and we found significantly increased levels in young and elderly smokers and emphysema patients. The viral entry depends on TMPRSS2 protease activity, and a higher expression was detected in elderly smokers and ex-smokers and emphysema patients. Both ACE2 and TMPRSS2 mRNA levels were higher in this disease in comparison with non-smokers. CD209L serves as a receptor for SARS-CoV-2, and we found increased levels in ATII cells obtained from smokers and in emphysema patients. Also, our data suggest CD209L regulation by miR142. Endoplasmic reticulum stress was detected in ATII cells in this disease. Our results suggest that upregulation of SARS-CoV-2 entry factors in ATII cells in aging, smokers, and emphysema patients may facilitate infection.