Efficacy and safety of metabolic interventions for the treatment of severe COVID-19: in vitro, Observational, and Non-Randomized Open Label Interventional Study

Avner Ehrlich, Konstantinos Ioannidis, Makram Nasar, Ismaeel Abu Alkian, Yuval Daskal, Nofar Atari, Limor Kliker, Nir Rainy, Matan Hofree, Sigal Shafran Tikva, Inbal Houri, Arrigo Cicero, Chiara Pavanello, Cesare R. Sirtori, Jordana B. Cohen, Julio A. Chirinos, Lisa Deutsch, Merav Cohen, Amichai Gottlieb, Adina Bar-ChaimOren Shibolet, Michal Mandelboim, Shlomo L. Maayan, Yaakov Nahmias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Viral infection is associated with a significant rewire of the host metabolic pathways, presenting attractive metabolic targets for intervention. Methods: We chart themetabolic response of lung epithelial cells to SARS-CoV-2 infection in primary cultures and COVID-19 patient samples and perform in vitro metabolism-focused drug screen on primary lung epithelial cells infected with different strains of the virus. We perform observational analysis of Israeli patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 and comparative epidemiological analysis from cohorts in Italy and the Veteran’s Health Administration in the United States. In addition, we perform a prospective non-randomized interventional open-label study in which 15 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 were given 145 mg/day of nanocrystallized fenofibrate added to the standard of care. Results: SARS-CoV-2 infection produced transcriptional changes associated with increased glycolysis and lipid accumulation. Metabolism-focused drug screen showed that fenofibrate reversed lipid accumulation and blocked SARS-CoV-2 replication through a PPARP-dependent mechanism in both alpha and delta variants. Analysis of 3,233 Israeli patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 supported in vitro findings. Patients taking fibrates showed significantly lowermarkers of immunoinflammation and faster recovery. Additional corroboration was received by comparative epidemiological analysis from cohorts in Europe and the United States. A 9 subsequent prospective non-randomized interventional open-label study was carried out on 15 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. The patients were treated with 145 mg/day of nanocrystallized fenofibrate in addition to standard-of-care. Patients receiving fenofibrate demonstrated a rapid reduction in inflammation and a significantly faster recovery compared to patients admitted during the same period. Conclusions: Taken together, our data suggest that pharmacological modulation of PPARPPPshould be strongly considered as a potential therapeutic approach for SARS-CoV-2 infection and emphasizes the need to complete the study of fenofibrate in large randomized controlled clinical trials. Funding: Funding was provided by European Research Council Consolidator Grants OCLD (project no. 681870) and generous gifts from the Nikoh Foundation and the Sam and Rina Frankel Foundation (YN). The interventional study was supported by Abbott (project FENOC0003). Clinical 60 trial number: NCT04661930.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere79946
JournaleLife
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

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