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      COVID-19 and Extracellular Vesicles: An Intriguing Interplay

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          The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome β-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has the potential to become a long-lasting global health crisis. The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus has surpassed 22 million globally, resulting in over 700,000 deaths with more than 15 million people having recovered ( Enormous efforts are underway for rapid vaccine and treatment developments. Amongst the many ways of tackling the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are emerging.


          EVs are lipid bilayer-enclosed structures secreted from all types of cells, including those lining the respiratory tract. They have established roles in lung immunity and are involved in the pathogenesis of various lung diseases, including viral infection. In this review, we point out the roles and possible contribution of EVs in viral infections, as well as ongoing EV-based approaches for the treatment of COVID-19, including clinical trials.

          Key Messages

          EVs share structural similarities to viruses and recent findings demonstrate that viruses exploit EVs for cellular exit and EVs exploit viral entry mechanisms for cargo delivery. Moreover, EV-virus interplay could be exploited for future antiviral drug and vaccine development. EV-based therapies, especially the mesenchymal stem cell-derived EVs, are being intensively studied for the treatment of COVID-19.

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          Most cited references 40

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          SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry Depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and Is Blocked by a Clinically Proven Protease Inhibitor

          Summary The recent emergence of the novel, pathogenic SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in China and its rapid national and international spread pose a global health emergency. Cell entry of coronaviruses depends on binding of the viral spike (S) proteins to cellular receptors and on S protein priming by host cell proteases. Unravelling which cellular factors are used by SARS-CoV-2 for entry might provide insights into viral transmission and reveal therapeutic targets. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 uses the SARS-CoV receptor ACE2 for entry and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for S protein priming. A TMPRSS2 inhibitor approved for clinical use blocked entry and might constitute a treatment option. Finally, we show that the sera from convalescent SARS patients cross-neutralized SARS-2-S-driven entry. Our results reveal important commonalities between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection and identify a potential target for antiviral intervention.
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            Treatment of 5 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 With Convalescent Plasma

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              Therapeutic applications of extracellular vesicles: clinical promise and open questions.

              This review provides an updated perspective on rapidly proliferating efforts to harness extracellular vesicles (EVs) for therapeutic applications. We summarize current knowledge, emerging strategies, and open questions pertaining to clinical potential and translation. Potentially useful EVs comprise diverse products of various cell types and species. EV components may also be combined with liposomes and nanoparticles to facilitate manufacturing as well as product safety and evaluation. Potential therapeutic cargoes include RNA, proteins, and drugs. Strategic issues considered herein include choice of therapeutic agent, means of loading cargoes into EVs, promotion of EV stability, tissue targeting, and functional delivery of cargo to recipient cells. Some applications may harness natural EV properties, such as immune modulation, regeneration promotion, and pathogen suppression. These properties can be enhanced or customized to enable a wide range of therapeutic applications, including vaccination, improvement of pregnancy outcome, and treatment of autoimmune disease, cancer, and tissue injury.

                Author and article information

                Kidney Blood Press Res
                Kidney Blood Press Res
                Kidney & Blood Pressure Research
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, )
                21 September 2020
                : 1-10
                aExtracellular Vesicles and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Institute of Biosciences and BioResources, National Research Council of Italy, Naples, Italy
                bDepartment of Translational Medical Sciences, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Naples, Italy
                cBiogem Research Institute, Ariano Irpino, Avellino, Italy
                Author notes
                *Gabriella Pocsfalvi, Extracellular Vesicles and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Institute of Biosciences and BioResources, National Research Council of Italy, Via P. Castellino 111, IT–80131 Napoli (Italy), gabriella.pocsfalvi@
                Copyright © 2020 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, References: 50, Pages: 10
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