COVID-19 model reveals key role for innate immunity in controlling viral load

January 20, 2021

Since SARS-CoV-2 was identified in December 2019, researchers have worked feverishly to study the novel coronavirus. Although much knowledge has been gained, scientists still have a lot to learn about how SARS-CoV-2 interacts with the human body, and how the immune system fights it. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science have developed a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 infection that reveals a key role for the innate immune system in controlling viral load.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous socioeconomic problems and caused the death of almost 2 million people worldwide. Although vaccines are now being administered, few effective therapeutics currently exist. To identify new therapies, scientists need to gain a better understanding of how the virus interacts with the host's immune system. There are two main branches of the immune system: innate (in which immune cells engulf pathogens, release chemical signals or otherwise respond non-specifically to a pathogen) and adaptive (in which lymphocytes produce antibodies and kill specific pathogens). It's difficult to study virus dynamics in the human body, so some researchers have developed mathematical models to investigate virus-host interactions. Prashant Dogra, Zhihui Wang and colleagues wanted to improve upon the existing models to simulate the whole-body dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The researchers developed a mathematical model that predicts the viral load over time in organs that express the ACE-2 receptor, which is necessary for SARS-CoV-2's entry into cells. Some of the parameters used in the model, such as the levels of various immune cells in the human body, were already known, whereas others, such as the infection rate of target cells, were estimated from published experimental data from COVID-19-infected hamsters. Once the team had developed a simplified model, they used human data to make a more complete one that also included adaptive immunity. When the researchers used the model to simulate different conditions, they found that innate immunity played a larger role in controlling viral load than adaptive immunity, and that it was important to begin antiviral or interferon therapy as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The abstract that accompanies this paper is available here.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS' mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. The Society is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a specialist in scientific information solutions (including SciFinder® and STN®), its CAS division powers global research, discovery and innovation. ACS' main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.  

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.  

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook
-end-


American Chemical Society

Related Immune System Articles from Brightsurf:

How the immune system remembers viruses
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen.

How does the immune system develop in the first days of life?
Researchers highlight the anti-inflammatory response taking place after birth and designed to shield the newborn from infection.

Memory training for the immune system
The immune system will memorize the pathogen after an infection and can therefore react promptly after reinfection with the same pathogen.

Immune system may have another job -- combatting depression
An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects.

COVID-19: Immune system derails
Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction - rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition.

Immune cell steroids help tumours suppress the immune system, offering new drug targets
Tumours found to evade the immune system by telling immune cells to produce immunosuppressive steroids.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

Parkinson's and the immune system
Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease.

How an immune system regulator shifts the balance of immune cells
Researchers have provided new insight on the role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in regulating the immune response.

Read More: Immune System News and Immune System Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.